DOH exec calls for aggressive campaign vs HIV-AIDS in Bicol

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Dr. Enrique Tayag, DOH assistant secretary
Dr. Enrique Tayag, DOH assistant secretary. Photo courtesy of InterAksyon.com

LEGAZPI CITY (13-Mar-2013/PNA) – The head of the Department of Health (DOH) in Bicol has called for the adoption of an aggressive advocacy campaign to curb the rising number of people inflicted with Human Immuno-deficiency Virus-Acquired Immuno-deficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS).

Gloria Balboa, Department of Health (DOH) regional director, said local health officials are closely monitoring cases of people suffering from HIV/AIDs virus in Bicol after her office recorded 104 cases for the past two decades.

Balboa said the 104 recorded cases occurred from January 1984 to December 2012.

Topping the list of HIV-AIDS cases in Bicol were the provinces of Albay, with 42 cases, and Camarines Sur, 38.

The number of cases in other Bicol provinces are: Masbate, 9; Sorsogon, 8; Camarines Norte, 5; and Catanduanes, with only two cases.

“We do not know, yet, if there are new cases for January and February this year in Bicol because all social hygiene clinics report directly to the National Epidemiology Center (NEC) in Manila due to the strict confidentiality of such cases,” Balboa explained.

Mike de la Rama, provincial action officer of the HIV-AIDS Albay Council, said in an interview Tuesday that of the 42 cases in Albay, majority involved are males with a median age of 30.

Based on health records, previous cases showed that the AIDS virus was acquired through heterosexual encounters but recently the social disease was traced to cases of “male having sex with male.” The council also monitored two HIV patients who have acquired the disease locally — meaning, the transmission originated from the province, De la Rama said.

Quoting a health report, he said that out of the 104 cases, eight Bicolanos have been undergoing anti-retroviral treatment here while the rest are enrolled either in Manila or in other regions.

Dr. Enrique Tayag, DOH assistant secretary, in his recent visit here said a total of 380 new HIV cases were recorded in January this year, the highest increase since the government began monitoring HIV/AIDS cases in 1984.

This number brought to 12,082 the number of people suffering from HIV-AIDS since 1984, and the number is still rising, Tayag said.

“This means that from an average of nine new cases every day the previous year, we now have 12 new cases every day. So, our total (of HIV/AIDS) cases has reached 12,082 since 1984,” he added.

This translates to 380 cases from February 2012 to January 2013.

This record is 79 percent higher than the 212 reported in January last year.

The 380 cases also included 37 overseas Filipino workers, 93 percent of whom are males and with a median age of 27 years (age range: 17-62 years), according to Tayag.

Dr. Alan Lucañas, HIV-AIDS Prevention and Control coordinator for Bicol, reiterated the ABCDEs in the fight against the disease which are: Abstinence, Be Faithful, Consistent and Correct condom use, Don’t use drugs and alcohol and right Education.

Tayag was also once quoted as saying that one should always carry a condom.

“Don’t believe those who say that condoms have holes and you cannot benefit from them. And always carry it with you,” he said.

He explained that when one has a condom always, it does not mean that he is a bad person.

“It’s like carrying an umbrella. If you have an umbrella, it does not mean that you want it to rain. You only want to have one, just in case it does rain,” he clarified. (PNA)

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