By Dominique Gabriel G. Bañaga
The Provincial Health Office (PHO) said it is closely monitoring cases of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in Negros Occidental, following the Department of Health (DOH) recording a rise in the number of HIV-related cases.
PHO head, Dr. Ernell Tumimbang, said they have only concentrated on monitoring female commercial workers and Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW), despite recent DOH-Negros Island Region (DOH-NIR) reports showing the rise in the number of HIV cases is due to male-to-male sexual contact.
According to mode of transmission data by the DOH-NIR Epidemiology Bureau, they recorded a total 79 local cases, of which 22 identified as bisexual, 17 heterosexual, and 55 homosexual.
In terms of age, the highest number of cases were of those between 25 and 34 years old.
Previously, Bacolod City was the only city in the province to report a number of HIV cases. However, Tumimbang said there are now 10 towns and cities in Negros Occidental that have reported HIV cases.
Last week, DOH Secretary Paulyn Ubial said the Philippines has the “fastest growing” HIV epidemic in the Asia Pacific region.
Bacolod City was also identified as a “high burden area,” where most new infections occur./WDJ