DOH holds HIV/AIDS forum

The Mindanao Examiner Regional Newspaper - - News - Visitacion) (Ayin

CEBU CITY – The Department of Health’s Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (DOH-RITM) recently held an awareness forum on Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS) at the Cebu Normal University. The forum was part of Rated+ (Rated Plus), an awareness caravan by DOH-RITM that aims to promote a safe and open discourse on HIV/AIDS among the youth.

The forum began with a film showing of “Bakit Ako?”, the winning piece by De La Salle University from last year’s Strain Film Exposition organized by DOH’S AIDS Research Group (ARG).

The resource persons during the HIV/AIDS forum.

It was followed by an open forum tackling HIV myths and facts, stigma, treatment, and a testimonial from an HIV positive person. There was also free HIV testing for the attendees and students.

“We want to tap those who are at risk. Your group of millennial are at risk,” Dr. Mark Kristoffer Pasayan, an Infectious Disease Specialist of RITM, told the participants as he explained why they are bringing the awareness fora to universities.

He revealed that there have been 30 new HIV cases reported in a day for this year, a big jump from the data in 2008 when one case was reported per day. According to the HIV and Aids Registry of the Philippines (HARP) report, HIV reached the highest number of cases in May 2017 with 1,098 since 1984.

Out of total, one fourth are from the 15 to 24 age group. As the years go by, as the numbers continue to increase, the people who get infected and diagnosed with HIV are getting younger and younger. [We] reach out to the college students to help them and bring awareness to this age group,” Dr. Pasayan said.

Among the country’s regions, Central Visayas ranks third with the highest number of HIV/AIDS cases. The National Capital Region ranks first and followed by Region 4A.

Another panellist during the event was Cebu Plus Association Program Manager Jhay Encabo, who said that Cebu has the highest prevalence on HIV especially on cases of men having sex with men, however, the numbers only reflect those who voluntarily submitted themselves for testing.

Encabo explained the concept of ‘outer circle’ or when the youth see themselves as invincible and that HIV will hit others but not themselves, is what usually prevents them from getting tested. “Life does not end after diagnosis. We have seen those infected became much closer to their parents and social circles,” he said.

Dr. Pasayan stressed that early detection is key to treating HIV. “If you know your status early, we can diagnose early and help you early. Don’t put yourself in a situation that your doctors can no longer help you,” he said, explaining that HIV is transmitted through unprotected sexual contact, shared needles, mother to child via breastfeeding and blood transfusion.

The resource persons during the HIV/AIDS forum.

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