*One victim is an 18-month-old baby who acquired virus from mom’s pregnancy
BATAC CITY– The infectious disease specialist of the Mariano Marcos Memorial Hospital and Medical Center (MMMH-MC) here has expressed alarm over the rising number of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AI DS) cases in Ilocos Norte.
At least 50 cases of HIV-AIDS were officially recorded in Ilocos Norte during the period from 1984 to 2016, based on Department of Health data.
“The increasing number of HIV-AIDS cases in the province is already alarming”, medical specialist Dr. Marie Joyce Santos said in a recent broadcast interview as part of the campaign to raise public awareness of the dreadful disease.
Dr. Santos said that among those infected is an 18-month-old baby, who might have acquired the virus during the mother’s pregnancy.
Santos explained that the HIV could lead to the fatal AIDS if left untreated. In fact, she revealed that at least one patient in the province had died from AIDS.
She said the MMMH&MC readily welcomes anyone who wants to undergo HIV-AIDS test with the assurance that the identity of an infected individual would be kept strictly confidential.
The medical sector feared that there could be more HIV-AIDS sufferers in the locality but they were not reported because they are ashamed to come out and seek medical attention.
It was learned that a massive information dissemination and awareness campaign on HIV-AIDS is now being undertaken by the regional office of the Department of Health in an effort to contain the spread of the disease.
The increase of HIV-AIDS cases may also be attributed to the advent of technology like a quick finding of unsafe sexual partners via online. Doctors said sexual contact remains to be the main mode of transmission, most of which is from the male-having-sex-with-male (MSM) population. Other modes are through pregnancy from mother to child, blood transfusion and sharing of needles in injecting drugs.
The DOH reported a total of 1,098 new HIV antibody seropositive individuals to the HIV/AIDS and ART Registry of the Philippines (HARP), which is said to be 48 percent higher compared to the same period last year. The same data shows that the percentage of HIV positive cases in the age group 15-24 increased from 25 percent in 2006-2010 to 28 percent in 2011-2016.
Of the 42283 HIV-positive recorded persons in the country as of March 2017, the DOH said that 11,550 are from the age group 15-24, noting how the age group with the biggest record of cases is gradually shifting into the younger generation, from 35-39 in 2001-2005 to 25-34 starting 2006.
In Ilocos region, a total of 696 HIV-AIDS cases were recorded from 1984 to 2016. Of this total, Pangasinan has the highest number with 341 full blown AIDS sufferers, La Union with 130 cases, Ilocos Sur. 89 and Ilocos Norte, 50 cases. (tsg)