150 positive in city in 6 months: Alarming rise in HIV cases

07/28/2010 - CEBU, Philippines – Health officials yesterday confirmed that the number of persons found positive of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in Cebu City has reached 150 from January to June 30 this year.

Dr. Ilya Tac-an, head of the City Health's sexually-transmitted diseases (STD) section, considers this as already alarming considering that there were only 95 persons found HIV positive in Cebu City from 1989 to 2009.

Tac-an said there were more than 350 persons, who availed of the government's free laboratory testing for those who believe they have HIV because they are intravenous drug users or have many sex partners.

Of those persons subjected to laboratory testing at the Cebu City Health Department, 150 have been found positive of HIV.

Tac-an said based on their interviews they found out that the victims acquired the virus through the use of needles.

Those found HIV positive admitted that they are drug dependents, who usually use syringe, one after another, in injecting Nubain.

Barangay Kamagayan situated in the central district of Cebu City is the popular place that was identified by the drug dependents where they have themselves injected with Nubain.

Dr. Gerard Belimac, the program manager of the Department of Health (DOH)'s national AIDS/Sexually Transmitted Infection Prevention and Control Program, said the rapid increase in HIV cases is attributed to injecting drugs.

According to Belimac, drug users using injection might soon become the biggest contributor to the HIV/AIDS epidemic because the virus spreads faster through injection than by any other means because an infected needle is often used by four to 10 drug users.

Tac-an advised the drug users to stop injecting drugs.

"Posible man gud nga inig tuslok nila sa dagom sa vein, birahon nila aron tan-awon kon mogawas ba ang dugo usa pa nila i-inject ang drugs mao nga kon positive sa HIV ang maong tawo, kadtong uban nga mogamit sa needle ug syringe matakdan usab," Tac-an explained.

There is no cure yet for HIV that leads to AIDS and there's also no vaccine to prevent infection. There is a new medication that can only slow the progression of the infection.

The HIV virus cannot be destroyed and lives in the body undetected for months or years before any sign of illness appears.

DOH records show that since January 1984, the HIV/AIDS Registry has already recorded 5,123 HIV cases, with 841 already having progressed into full-blown AIDS.

In Cebu City, Tac-an said most of those who have been found positive of HIV are men and only about 10 per cent are women.

While HIV and AIDS may also spread through sex, but Tac-an said they learned that most of those HIV positive got the virus by injecting drugs.

Tac-an encouraged those persons, who believed that they are afflicted with HIV because they have themselves injected drugs and engage in sex with multiple partners to visit their office. (Philippine Star)

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