100% hike in HIV cases in Palawan – UNAIDS
Cases of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in Palawan increased by 100 percent as of October this year compared to the same period last year, the Joint United Nations Programme on Human Immune Deficiency Virus/ Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (UNAIDS) reported Thursday.
Dr. Louie Ocampo, the UNAIDS country director, told Palawan News that the province has 150 HIV positive cases in 2017 that almost doubled to 298 cases as of October. Ocampo said they expect the figure will surpass last year’s total by the end of 2018. “Iyung Palawan kasi, particularly Puerto Princesa, is already Category A in terms of HIV incidents, ‘yong pagdami ng mga kaso. Ibig sabihin ay dumadami na talaga ‘ yong trend ng kaso ng HIV,” Ocampo said. He pointed out that HIV incidence is prevalent among males aging from 15 to 34 who had sexual intercourse with the same sex and became exposed to the virus. “Sila ‘yong mga nasa eskuwelahan, ‘ yong mga nagtatrabaho. Kaya gusto natin na hangga’t mas maaga ay mabigyan sila ng tamang impormasyon patungkol sa HIV prevention,” Ocampo pointed out. He said the public “should practice sexual abstinence and if is not possible, encouraged the public the proper use of condoms.” A total of 211 out of the 298 HIV positive people are now being treated at the Ospital ng Palawan’s ( ONP) HIV treatment facility majority of which are from Puerto Princesa City. “Meron pang 97 na hindi pa nali-link o nasisimulan ng antiretro-viral treatment. Meron pa tayong maraming cases na hinid pa natin na-te-test. Either hindi sila aware, or aware man sila, ayaw nilang magpa-test, natatakot,” he said. Ocampo said that the antiretroviral treatment slows down and even prevent the growth of the virus, allowing the patient to continue living his life like a normal person, only with drug-maintenance as the difference. While there is always an attached stigma and discrimination on being an HIV positive patient, Ocampo urged the public to get tested and take medication. Pilipinas Shell Foundation, Inc. organized a two-day Capacity Building of Regional HIV Coordinators on Development of Strategic and Investment Plan on HIV and AIDS and the Establishment of Service Delivery Network Workshop with the De- partment of Health (DOH) on October 18-19. PSFI senior project officer for HIV program Maria Stella Flores said they invited the regional HIV coordinators of the National Capital Region (NCR), Region 4A, Region 4B, Region 6, Region 7, Region 10 and Region 11. The six regions are among the top in the country with the highest number of HIV positive cases. “Sila po ay magke-create ng investment planning for HIV program, so in the coming years, the HIV program will have a budget for sustainability. Kaniya-kaniyang rehiyon ay magpa-plano. At the same time, magkano ang kailangan para maipasok natin ito sa ating local planning ng investment ng ating mga provinces and cities,” Flores said.