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HIV cases in Central Visayas hit 4,165 in June

CEBU CITY—Cases of HIV infections in Central Visayas reached 4,165 as of June this year from 1984, when the government started gathering data related to the disease, the Department of Health (DOH) in Region 7 said.

Dr. Van Philip Baton, coordinator of Re-Emerging Infectious Disease Program of DOH 7, said 257 persons were also confirmed to be suffering from full-blown AIDS during
the period.

Out of the total HIV cases in Central Visayas as of June 2017, the province of Cebu accounted for 3,665 cases and 219 AIDS cases. Bohol followed with 153 HIV cases and 27 AIDS cases. Negros Oriental registered 84 HIV and 15 AIDS cases, while Siquijor had six HIV cases.

“Cebu province—including the cities of Cebu, Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu—posted the majority of the new cases this year. This could be explained by the fact that Cebu is a gateway to Mindanao and the Visayas areas, where people just come and go,” Baton said.

By mode of transmission, sharing of infected needles remains the top causes of HIV infections in Central Visayas, accounting for 1,852 of the total cases.

Transmission due to male-to-male unprotected sex comes next with 1,048 cases.

Baton said the national data showed transmission due to unprotected homogenous (same-gender male) sex is the top cause of the spread of HIV, followed by the sharing of infected
needles.

HIV patients in the region are also getting younger, Baton added.

“The majority of our cases fall under the age group of 25 to 34 years old. These are our young professionals, the new blood in the industry,” he said.

In Cebu this age group accounted for 1,878 of the total cases. Notably, the age group of 15 to 24 years old accounted for 1,220 cases.

“The June data showed a trend, and the trend is that there is a steady increase of HIV cases in the region,” Baton said.

He added that, despite the efforts of the DOH in coming up with programs to prevent the spread of infection, the major challenge is on how to encourage the people to submit themselves to testing, especially those who engage in sexual activities.

He sees the society’s continuous discrimination and the stigma against people with HIV as the reason people do not seek help: They are ashamed of what others might say
against them.

 

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