The Dumaguete City Health Office (CHO) is intensifying its awareness campaign on human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) amid the increasing number of cases in the city.
The city government has allocated a total of P400,000 as annual budget for trainings, seminars, information, education and communication awareness campaigns, and the distribution of hygiene kits, Dumaguete city health officer Dr. Sarah Talla said.
In an interview with the Philippine Information Agency, CHO HIV/AIDS coordinator Lorelie Ignacio reported that the city has recorded 188 HIV cases, based on the data from the Provincial Epidemiology Surveillance Unit (PESU) of the Provincial Health Office.
The cases in Dumaguete are cumulative from 1984 until July 2023, of which 23 were logged from January to July 2023, said Juniefe Amada of PESU, who noted that the number of HIV cases is increasing.
However, PESU clarified that not all the recorded cases are currently in the city.
“Not all the 188 cases are in Dumaguete. Just like COVID-19, even if those cases were identified in Manila, Cebu, and other places, those identified cases were reported in Dumaguete based on their provincial address provided by the client,” Amada said.
The identities of the people living with HIV are not disclosed to protect their privacy, Ignacio added.
Negros Oriental logged a total of 560 HIV cases from 1984 to July 2023, of which 105 were recorded between January to July 2023.
Health officials here have noted that the mode of HIV/AIDS transmission is prevalent among males having sex with males.
Dr. Talla urged those who are sexually active and especially those engaging in multiple sexual partners to take extra precautions to avoid the risk of infection.
The World Health Organization (WHO) shared the following prevention measures to reduce the risk of HIV infection:
* using a male or female condom during sex
* being tested for HIV and sexually transmitted infections
* having a voluntary medical male circumcision
* using harm reduction services for people who inject and use drugs
The WHO recommends doctors to suggest medicines and medical devices to help prevent HIV, including: antiretroviral drugs (ARVs), including oral PrEP and long acting products; dapivirine vaginal rings; and injectable long acting cabotegravir.
Access to testing and antiretroviral therapy (ART) is an important part of preventing, according to WHO in its website.
People taking ART and who have no evidence of virus in the blood will not pass HIV to their sexual partners.
The CHO provides technical support to the City Population Office by conducting HIV-AIDS advocacy activities, such as adult reproductive health fora in schools and barangays in the city.
The advocacy campaigns target peer educators, barangay health workers, social workers, women’s groups, and scholars through capability-trainings.
Ignacio said workers from business processing outsourcing, masseurs, food handlers, cooperatives or non-government organizations participated in the HIV seminars and pre-marriage counseling.
Health practitioners, nursing and medical students, government employees, and advocates joined the observance of the World AIDS Day on December 1, with a fun run at the Pantawan People’s Park.
Mayor Felipe Antonio Remollo approved the conduct of the activity in support of the global campaign for HIV/AIDS awareness and to raise awareness among people living with the virus on how to seek help and treatment.
During the fun run, Talla and City Councilor Bernice Anne Elmaco shared the programs, projects and activities funded by the city government to provide access to preventive commodities, treatment, care and support services.
Globally, WHO recorded around 39 million people living with HIV at the end of 2022.
“HIV remains a major global public health issue, having claimed 40.4 million lives so far, with ongoing transmission in all countries globally,” the WHO website stated. (PIA Negros Oriental)