BY ROGER M. BALANZA
The number of men tested positive for Human Immuno-Deficiency Virus (HIV) in Davao City has zoomed up to 243, beefed with 41 new cases recorded during the first quarter of year 2012, said Dr. Jordana P. Ramittere, officer-in-charge of Reproductive Health and Wellness Center (RHWC) of the Davao City Health Office.
If not treated, HIV leads to Acquired Immuno-Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) and death.
Ramietere, at I-Speak media forum at City Hall, said a total 262 HIV/AIDS cases had been monitored in Davao City since 1993, with 93.5% of the victims men. Twenty nine died from the disease, five of them only this year.
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City Health Officer Josephine Villafuerte said earlier that “it is still the male-to-male transmission [of the virus]” which is the most common. She said the clandestine sex orgies among young males are still unchecked despite several warnings of the risks they pose.
She said the participants were mostly in the 15-20 years age group.“Many of them apparently knew of the danger of HIV transmission but still engage in [the orgies],” she said.
With the rising number of HIV and AIDS cases, Ramittere said the city might not be able to attain the United Nations Millenium Development Goal which is to combat AIDS and reverse the spread of the virus by 2015.
The spread of the virus could be averted through safe sex, abstinence or condom use.
Early this year, Ramittere said there is one pregnant woman with HIV. She said the transmission of the virus to the baby could be prevented if the mother continue to take anti-retroviral drugs. “There is still hope,” she said.
At present, the city government with non-government organizations including Talikala Foundation Inc. is conducting information education campaign to combat against the spread of AIDS. The City Health Office earlier said that awareness on the health menace is high among the members of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
“Nitaas siya kay daghan na nagpatest (it has risen because many have taken the test),” said Kenneth Sadia, information education communication support staff of the RHWC.
Based on RHWC data, there had been 7,191 visits to the RHWC in 2011 and this is far cry from the 4,937 visits recorded in 2008. For 2012, the RHWC is averaging about 500 visits per month.
Sadia said that they are currently conducting IEC outreach among the city’s barangays. Currently they have already reached about 52 barangays in Davao City. Aside from information dissemination, some barangays have also requested HIV tests.