BAGUIO CITY—Human immunodeficiency virus cases in the city increased by 700 percent last year, causing health authorities here to press the alarm button and alert people on the unprecedented rise in the number of persons affected by the disease.
City Health Services Office Nurse Cristina Juan said that from 4 HIV cases in 2016, Baguio recorded 32 HIV cases at the office’s social hygiene clinic in the city last year, an alarming increase according to concerned sectors.
Of the recorded HIV cases last year, two were heterosexual males, one was a pregnant woman, while the rest were men having sex with men. From January 2018 to date, Juan said the local health department discovered 10 new HIV cases, all men who had sex with men.
Geeny Anne I. Austria, a nurse at the Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit of the Cordillera office of the Department of Health, said Baguio was elevated to the category of a high-risk area in terms of the proliferation of the illness with the drastic increase in the number of cases in the city—the same as the National Capital Region, Cebu and Pampanga.
Austria reported that Baguio City accounted for 301 HIV cases out of the 405 cases recorded by the regional agency from 1984 to January this year.
Based on the agency’s recent studies, men having sex with men or those involved in unprotected sex topped the list of new HIV cases. Those in the vulnerable sector like commercial sex workers registered a significant decline in cases because of the constant monitoring done for them by the health authorities and personnel.
Austria explained that individuals who initially contracted HIV could result in full-blown Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome that could eventually lead to death, once their immune system is compromised.
Of the 405 HIV cases recorded in the Cordillera from 1984 to January this year, 301 cases are from Baguio City, 47 cases from Benguet, 41 from Abra, 10 from Kalinga and Ifugao, and seven cases from Mountain Province.
Health authorities advised individuals to practice safe and protected sex to prevent them from contracting the illness, especially when their partners have already been affected with the virus.
Individuals who have multiple partners were reminded to seek the appropriate medical attention from the nearest health facility to detected illnesses at their early stages.