By Erwin M. Mascariñas
Butuan City — The Department of Health (DOH) Caraga Region reveals that as of February this year, the number of people infected by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus infection and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) has risen 50% higher compared to the same month last year.
“As of February 2018, Caraga Region has a total of 12 new HIV positive individuals confirmed by the STD/AIDS Cooperative Central Laboratory and reported to the HIV and AIDS registry. This is 50% higher compared to the same period last year, which were eight cases,” said Jose Llacuna Jr, regional director of DOH-Caraga.
DOH-Caraga records reveal that from 1995 to February, this year, a total of 483 individuals have been reported to have been infected of which 459 are males and 24 are females. A total of 439 are considered asymptomatic cases while 44 have been declared to be full-blown AIDS cases.
From the 483 cases, 479 have been recorded as to having been infected by means of sexual contact.
Butuan City has the highest number of reported cases with 153, Agusan del Norte with 54 cases, Agusan del Sur with 94, Surigao del Norte with 93 cases, Surigao del Sur with 85 and 4 individuals from the island province of Dinagat.
“We urge the members of the community, especially those who are at high risk for acquiring the virus to submit themselves to counseling and testing in which the services are free and confidential. The thought of having yourself tested may sound scary for many but to know your status may be both liberating and educating,” said Llacuna.
DOH-Caraga pointed out that more people should be tested as the numbers on the data could be lesser than what the real figures are.
Dr Gemma Manatad, former regional epidemiologist and assistant regional director of DOH Caraga expressed that people are afraid to be tested as they fear the discrimination that comes with being tested positive.
“You cannot get HIV by any form or by just any means, sharing plates or sharing spoons, you won’t get it by shaking hands or hugging them, or other forms of some misconception of HIV. It is preventable and it is manageable, and discrimination can be lessened and hopefully be fully eliminated.”