By: Jennifer C. Tilos
DUMAGUETE CITY (PIA) — Negros Oriental health officials have monitored two new cases of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) early this year in the province.
According to STI/HIV-AIDS Coordinator Cristina Dagle of Integrated Provincial Health Office (IPHO), the blood sample of the two recent HIV positive patients will be sent to San Lazaro Hospital for the confirmatory test.
“If it is already confirmed then they will be referred to Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center in Cebu for the free antiretroviral drugs. This drug is globally funded for patients with HIV,” said Dagle.
However, Dagle added “HIV test is supposedly available at NOPH (Negros Oriental Provincial Health Office) but its testing machine is temporarily not working while Silliman University Medical Center, which has one, will cost more than P800.”
Dagle emphasized that although HIV cannot be cured, treatment such as antiretroviral drugs and healthy lifestyles help control the patient’s condition.
IPHO recorded five deaths due to HIV-Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome or (HIV-AIDS) since 2007 to 2013, of which two were females and three males.
The modes of transmission for HIV include: sexual contact, needle sharing among injecting drug users, and mother-to-child transmission.
HIV weakens the immune system, making an infected person susceptible to various opportunistic diseases like tuberculosis, pneumonia, cancer and etc.
Persons with HIV usually have a life expectancy of 10 years, the health official explained.
“While pregnant women with HIV can now take anti-retroviral drugs during the second trimester of their pregnancy, this can prevent them from transmitting the virus to their babies. The intervention is known as PMTCT or the Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission,” Dagle cited.
However, she revealed that teenagers are the ones usually prone to HIV-AIDS because they are sexually active and curious about sex.
With this, the IPHO conducted a series of seminars to raise HIV-AIDS awareness among high school guidance counselors for them to know how to handle HIV-AIDS problems among high school students.
HIV-AIDS can be prevented by practicing sex with only one partner, practicing safe sex with the use of condoms, and restraining from using illegal drugs.
Dagle advised those people whose lifestyles are prone to HIV infection to undergo HIV test and to avail PhilHealth for it has treatment packages for HIV infected persons. (JCT with reports from Jingky T. Bucad/PIA-7 Negros Oriental)