HIV/AIDS RISING   95 % of sick Dabawenyos are men having sex with men

The local Reproductive Health and Wellness Center of the City Health Office (CHO) has recorded a total of 2,525 of Human Immunodeficiency Virus infection and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS) cases in Davao City from January to July this year alone, with men having sex with men (MSM) still on top of the list of the modes of transmission.

According to the latest data of the RHWC-Davao obtained from the Epidemiology Bureau of the Department of Health (DOH) in Davao Region, out of the 2, 525 HIV/AIDS cases, males got the highest number of people with HIV infection with 95 percent compared to females with 5 percent only.

Male to male sex transmission posed 1,330 cases and people living with HIV (PLHIV) has reached to 1,426 cases, according to Dr. Jordana Ramiterre, RHWC-Davao physician head during the during the Kapehan sa Dabaw media forum at SM City Mall annex. Cases are higher among males because of their riskier sexual behavior than females.

“The virus may be acquired by those who engage in risky sexual behavior. It is transmitted through unprotected sexual intercourse (anal/vaginal), transfusion of contaminated blood, sharing of contaminated needles and between a mother and her infant during pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding,” said Ramiterre.

The report on Davao City having one of the highest  number of HIV/AIDS cases should be taken with a positive note, according to Alma Mondragon of ALAGAD Mindanao Inc., a non-government organization (NGO) working with local government units on the problem or decades now.

Mondragon said that individuals who tested positive of HIV-Aids are starting to reveal themselves in order that they can have to access to medical treatment and other forms of  assistance from the government.

In the Davao region, the group with the biggest proportion of cases are those aged 25 to 34 years with 1,181 cases. Next are the 15-24 age group with 1,004 cases, 35-49 age groups with 287, and 50 years old to older with 7 cases.

Ramiterre said it is better and safe for the concerned people to help themselves and have a medical check-up, especially those who are sexually active and are practicing risky behaviors.

“People vulnerable to the virus are those engaged into risky sexual behaviors, which include indulging in casual sex, having multiple-partners and this can only be prevented by limiting sex partners, have less risky sex, not to inject drugs, get tested, and by using protection.

The RHWC will continuously step up its information drive on AIDS and availability of such services as  counseling, testing and treatment, to curb the increase of the HIV-Aids cases in city.

Davao’s  LGBT community, many of whose are afflicted, has established a center to cater to victims from LGBT and other sectors affected, according to Oscar Obenza Jr.

Obenza said that the center is now implementing a referral system that enables the center to immediately indorse patients to the Southern Philippines Medical Center and the CHO. He said the center will soon a physician competent in handling HIV/AIDs cases.

Mondragon said that many Filipinos are hoping that the new law on handling HIV/AIDs will be enforced soon, specially the provision that  empowers minors to decide to submit to HIV/Aids protocol with the help of competent government personnel event without the consent of their parents and guards in their family.