HIV infections rising in Ormoc, E. Visayas

ORMOC CITY—The City Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit here has recorded an increase in the number of human immunodeficiency virus cases in the city—with half of the 14 new HIV reactive cases in Eastern Visayas coming Ormoc—prompting the local government to intensify the monitoring of infected persons.

Elsie Jaca, disease surveillance officer, noted the region’s trend follows that of the national average of 30 cases per day in 2017, compared to the average of 26 HIV cases per day last year.

HIV is the virus that causes Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome or AIDS, which has become a global epidemic. About 36.7 million people worldwide had the disease as of 2016, including 2.1 million children, the United Nations AIDS Programme figures show.

Jaca said that from January to July this year, 7,000 persons underwent voluntary HIV testing in Eastern Visayas, with more than 2,500 coming from Ormoc. These cases are still not reflected on the national HIV/AIDS registry, the surveillance officer added.

Statistics show that in Region 8, 335 HIV cases and 48 cases of AIDS have been recorded from 1984 to the present. To date, Ormoc has one AIDS case.

Jaca emphasized there could be more with the disease, as the numbers do not include overseas Filipino workers from the city.

Monitoring the disease remains “a tough challenge” because of the social stigma that causes fear and depression among people, which hinders them from undergoing HIV tests.

Those identified to be “positive” cannot be forced to undergo treatment, as forcing them is a violation of their rights and is punishable by law, Jaca said.

CESU reported that modes of transmission include unprotected male-to-male and male-to-female sex, sharing of infected needles in intravenous drug injections, and mother-to-child transmission.

“There is always hope for HIV [patients]. . . you can still live longer as long as you cooperate in the treatment,” emphasized Ma. Lourdes Lampong of the city health office. She said this is what they always reiterate during counseling sessions to avoid depression of the subject.

Lampong added that in their campaign to combat HIV/AIDS, they are tapping the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community to become peer counselors to educate their fellows.

The city health office has free HIV test kits and is encouraging individuals to seek early testing and counselling in their office. 

Topics: HIV infections , Ormoc , Eastern Visayas , City Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit
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