The number of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) cases in the region continues to increase as the Department of Health in Caraga (DOH-Caraga) has documented a total of 12 new cases in February 2018.
This brings the total number of cases to 483 since the DOH-Caraga started documenting infections in 1995.
Joy Dyana Cervantes, regional HIV and AIDs coordinator of DOH-Caraga, said the major bulk of the new cases reported in February this year were acquired through homosexual contact.
Two out of the 12 diagnosed with HIV are aged 15 years old, she said.
Since 1995 to February 2018, a total of 483 HIV cases were recorded in various parts of the region. Topping in the cumulative list is Butuan City where 153 cases were registered, followed by Agusan del Sur with 94 cases, Surigao del Norte with 93 cases, Surigao del Sur with 85 cases, Agusan del Norte with 54 cases and Dinagat Islands province with 4 cases.
Of the 483 HIV positive cases, 479 were contracted through unprotected sex, with men having sex with other men as the predominant type of sexual transmission.
Those affected with HIV/AIDS in Caraga region are mostly heterosexuals, bisexuals and homosexuals, Cervantes said.
HIV is the virus that causes the still incurable acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), a condition in which the body’s immune systems are attacked and damaged, ultimately leading to death.
But according to Cervantes, the awareness program of the agency is now “effective” as more individuals already come to health-designated offices for HIV testing and treatment.
Caraga health director Dr. Jose R. Llacuna, Jr. urged community members, especially those who are at high risk for acquiring the virus, to submit themselves to counseling and testing in which services are free and confidential.”
“The thought of having yourself tested may sound scary for many but to know your status may be both liberating and educating,” Llacuna said. By CLC