Official Publication of the Philippine Information Agency Bicol Regional Office, in cooperation with the RIAC-REDIRAS - RDC Bicol

Friday, November 25, 2016

DOH promotes HIV awareness on Albays LGBT community

By Julius B. Embile

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 25 (PIA) – Through the combined efforts of the Albay province’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community and the Department of Health (DOH), Legazpi City hosted the Bicol region’s first LGBT Convention with the objective of addressing the threat of ‘human immunodeficiency virus’ (HIV) upon the LGBT community.

Held Thursday at Legazpi City Convention Center, the said convention was a one-day event with the theme: “LGBT… The Metamorphosis… Be free, Be Informed, Get Tested For HIV.” The convention featured the talents and solidarity of the LGBT community members from the different cities and municipalities of Albay, but the consistent focus of the event is HIV awareness and education.

Based on the statistics presented by Dr. Aurora Daluro of DOH during the convention, the department’s Epidemiology Bureau tallied a cumulative total of 34,999 cases of HIV infection in the Philippines, since the infection was first detected in the country in 1984 up until the present.

However, what concerns the health authorities the most is the big increase of HIV cases since 2009. Compared to the statistics before 2009, the recorded cases of HIV infection surged by about 832% from 2009 until 2016. The data shows an average of 26 victims are being infected in a daily basis.

“These statistics are alarming enough as it is, but it is also concerning that victims are getting younger and younger through the years,” said Dr. Daluro. This is in reference to the increased number of HIV cases upon those within the 15 to 24 year-old age bracket; an age group which the doctor described as the age of ‘youth and restlessness’.

In terms of treatment, however, only 611 HIV infected patients have enrolled into anti-retroviral therapy, out of 764 detected HIV cases since August 2016. Dr. Daluro added that. Since there are victims who did not submit themselves to treatment, continued proliferation of the infection is still a clear projection.

In the Bicol region, Camarines Sur comes in first with a total of 161 cumulative cases (since 1988) and 23 cases therein are recorded in 2016.Ranked second is Albay, with 131 cumulative cases and 16 of which is for 2016.

The province of Sorsogon accounted a cumulative total of 55 HIV cases, 6 of which were recorded this year. Masbate tallied a cumulative total of 41 HIV cases, wherein 9 were recorded this year.

Camarines Norte has a total of 28 HIV cases since 1988, including one which was recorded this 2016. The province of Catanduanes recorded the least cases with only 16 cumulative total, but 3 of whom were recorded this year.

Overall, the Bicol region has a cumulative total of 433 HIV cases since 1988, wherein 58 were recently reported.

The data from the Epidemiology Bureau also provided a break-down of HIV infection in the region’s cities. Top among these cities is Naga City, with a total of 65 cases since 1988 and 11 of which has been recorded in 2016. Coming in second is Legazpi City, with a cumulative total of 37 HIV cases wherein 6 were recorded in 2016.

Ranked respectively, the DOH also identified, in terms of HIV cases, the cities and municipalities of: Sorsogon (3rd), Daraga (4th), Masbate (5th), Tabaco (6th), Polangui (7th), Guinobatan (8th), Iriga (also 8th), Virac (also 8th), Camalig (9th), Baao (10th), and Buhi (also 10th).

The statistics also showed a shift in the breakdown of infection victims. According to the data, most cases of HIV are from female victims and very little are from male victims during the 80s and 90’s. However, recent analysis show that 9 out of 10 (90%) of HIV victims are male, and now only 10% of victims are female.

In a rationale presented by Ms. Hazel Lynn Bartolome, Provincial STI Coordinator of Albay’s Provincial Health Office, the LGBT community is the social sector most vulnerable to HIV, based on recent studies. According to Bartolome, 80% of HIV victims are male, between the age of 25 and 34, who engage in MSM (men having sexual relations with men).

“HIV infection could be treated, but victims refuse to come forward because of silence, ignorance, fear, stigma, and discrimination,” said Bartolome. She explained that many refuse to submit themselves to HIV testing because of the social judgment that they may get even before the result.

The health authorities, on the other hand, continue to convince the public, especially the LGBT community, to submit to HIV testing and not be afraid to prioritize their health.

The City Health Office of Legazpi, through their Social Hygiene Clinic, invited the participants of the convention to avail of their free HIV and STI testing, counseling and free contraceptives. If, in any case one suspects being HIV positive, they are invited to approach the National HIV and STI Surveillance and Strategic Information Unit (NHSSS) to be given necessary treatment. (MAL/JBE-PIA5)

No comments:

Post a Comment