GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 19 March) – Three patients suffering from late stages of the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) have died last week while being treated in separate hospitals here, a health official said Thursday.
Dr. Mely Lastimoso, coordinator of the City Health Office’s social hygiene clinic, said the patients, who were all local residents, died due to complications of various opportunistic infections triggered by the disease.
She said the fatalities were already afflicted with full-blown AIDS when they earlier sought for treatment.
“The problem is that we have patients who came to us too late. They were already suffering from AIDS and a number of opportunistic infections that made their body unresponsive to further medication,” she said in an interview over TV Patrol Socksargen.
Lastimoso explained that once infected with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), which causes AIDS, the immune system of the victims would drastically decline and they eventually become vulnerable to opportunistic infections.
In the Philippines, she said one of the most common infection suffered by AIDS victims is tuberculosis or TB.
As of Thursday, the CHO said the confirmed HIV/AIDS cases in the city have already reached a total of 194. Most of these were found among male professionals in the 22 to 25 age bracket who were engaged in “risky sexual behaviors.”
They include gays, bisexuals, men who have sex with men or MSMs, and others who engage in unprotected sex and with multiple partners.
This week alone, a young professional and a college student were tested positive of HIV based the results of confirmatory tests conducted by the Department of Health’s (DOH) STD (sexually-transmitted diseases)/AIDS Cooperative Central Laboratory in Manila.
“For every patient who is positive of HIV, we’re looking out for 20 more that could have been infected unintentionally. So by now, our actual HIV cases could already be around 2,000,” Lastimoso said.
The official reiterated that it is important for residents, especially those who had engaged in risky sexual behavior, to get properly tested for HIV.
“For those who are positive, they could immediately avail of the national government’s care and support programs as well as free treatment,” she said.
The DOH provides HIV patients with maintenance or antiretroviral drug treatment, which mainly stops the multiplication of the infected person’s viral load and eventually prevents them from further spreading the disease.
In some countries, she said the use of antiretroviral drugs has helped effectively lower the incidence of HIV infection to about one percent and eventually stabilized the detected cases.