By Erwin M. Mascariñas
BUTUAN City – The Department of Health (DOH) in Caraga yesterday expressed alarm over the increase of the cases of Human Immunodeficiency Virus in the region.
Officials of the DOH in Caraga told a news conference that from 1995 to February 2019, the number of HIV cases in the region reached 651, and the deaths resulting from the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (Aids) have gone up to 69.
“We acknowledge that there is an alarming trend in the increase of HIV cases in Caraga and nationwide. We hope that through proper education we would be able to help in countering this increase, and stress the need for better implementation of measures,” said Jose Llacuna Jr., DOH regional director.
As of February 2019, Caraga had 17 new HIV cases verified to have been contracted through sexual contact, confirmed the Sexually Transmitted Disease/Aids Cooperative Central Laboratory. It is 41.7-percent higher compared to the same period last year.
The regional health office records suggest that from 1995 to February, this year, a total of 651 individuals have been reported to have been infected of which 617 are male and 34 are female. A total of 581 are considered
asymptomatic cases while 70 have been declared to be full-blown Aids cases.
From the 651 cases, 646 have been recorded as to having been infected by means of sexual contact.
Butuan City has the highest number of reported cases with 195; Agusan del Norte with 63 cases; Agusan del Sur with 131; Surigao del Norte with 131 cases; Surigao del Sur with 127; and four in the island province of Dinagat.
Nurse Necson Gamotin, behavioral change coordinator of the DOH-Caraga, said efforts are underway in the region to halt and reverse the spread of the disease.
“We are pushing for better preventive coverage, like 100-percent access to HIV testing and screening for early detection and counseling for those who are positive. We are also conducting school-based HIV/Aids information and education drive as well as giving option to free access of condoms social hygiene clinics and HIV hubs,” said Gamotin.
Gamotin said there are four testing and treatment hubs in Caraga that offer free HIV/Aids screenings and anti-retroviral therapy. These are at the Caraga Regional Hospital in Surigao City; Adela Ty Memorial Medical Center in Tandag City, Surigao del Sur; Butuan Medical Center and the DO Plaza Memorial Hospital in Prosperidad, Agusan del Norte.