DAVAO CITY – Eighty percent of the incidence of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which causes the dreaded Acquired Immune-Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), are traced in this city, as the AIDS council here is set to widen the campaign on persuading people with risky behaviors to voluntarily submit for testing and counseling.
The Reproductive Health and Wellness Center (RHWC) here told the weekly iSpeak media forum at the City Hall that “in Region XI, Davao city contributes the most cases of HIV positive which is 82 per cent”.
Patrick Albit of the RHWC was unable to release the number of persons with HIV in Davao City, but said the incidence in the region accounts for only six percent of the country’s total of 20,424 cases as of August this year since the country starts recording cases.
However, he warned that the number may be likely increase “if there will be more people to volunteer to test”.
The Davao City Aids Council (DCAC) is currently pursuing the campaign to popularize the “voluntary counseling and testing.”
Alma Mondragon, executive director of Alliance Against Aids in Mindanao (Alagad Mindanao) and a member of the council, said they will tap the barangay officials to take part in campaign “for they are the ones closer to the communities.
Mondragon disclosed that many cases of patients with the HIV have been diagnosed late with the infection.
“It would be better if a person will take the test earlier in order to be diagnosed and be supported by the RHWC,” she added.
Albit said that RHWC has extended its testing time to 10:00 pm to cater to those who can not take the test in the morning.
“There is nothing to worry about the test for the center will give a free and confidential test for those who want to take it,” he said.
Albit said it has now 63 peer educators who volunteered to do the education, counseling, and referral to the RHWC to take the test.
He admitted difficulty also in the recording of cases of death caused by AIDS “because many family of the victims would not specify the cause of death in the death certificate”.
Albit said that the country’s AIDS registry recorded only 1, 052 deaths, of which 862 are males and 190 are females; 124 in the age bracket of 15-24 years, while 15 are below 15 years old.
Meanwhile, Mondragon said they would need more budget and time for the full implementation of the priority programs on care, support and peer education to the affected population, counseling to the positive people, and care and psychosocial interventions.
Mondragon estimated the needed budget to reach P132 million within three years.
On the commemoration of World’s AIDS Day on December 1, the Davao City AIDS Council would conduct a one-day party for awareness and prevention of HIV- AIDS “as its contribution to the global action day”. It would be dubbed “Rage Against AIDS: The Red Party,” at the Rizal Park (davaotoday.com)