TACLOBAN CITY-The Department of Health (DOH) has expressed concern over 119 persons with untreated human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in Eastern Visayas, saying they are at risk of spreading this sexually-transmitted disease.
Roderick Boyd Cerro, chief of DOH regional epidemiology and surveillance unit, said they got the report about “lost to follow” cases from their central office last month.
“We came up with the data by subtracting the number of those under treatment from the total number of screened patients that turned out positive of the virus,” Cerro told PNA.
The official said majority of these people are aware of their health status, but some have no knowledge that they are infected. “Some came for screening, but never came back to get the result.”
“The best that we can do is to warn the public not to engage in unprotected sex to prevent HIV transmission,” Cerro added.
The regional office does not keep personal profiles of untreated patients.
The health department has reported 528 HIV cases from 1984 to the present in the region. With an estimate of 20 new detected cases every month, the DOH expects the number to rise to more than 600 at the end of 2017.
Eastern Visayas ranks eighth in the nationwide tally, contributing two percent of the total 38,872 cases in the country as of last year.
Similar to the national level, 79 percent of cases were transmitted due to male-to-male sexual contact.
To detect and treat HIV cases in the region, DOH will establish treatment hubs in every province and city in the region for HIV and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) affected individuals.
The DOH will also open a social-hygiene clinic in strategic areas as part of the services provided by the HIV/AIDS treatment hub.
At present, the region has only one operating treatment hub for the disease – the Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center in Tacloban City.
“HIV has no cure, but treatment can manage the infection, help an infected person live longer, healthier and reduce the risk of transmission,” Cerro added.
The DOH targets that by 2022, some 90 percent of all persons with HIV would be aware of their health status and would be undergoing treatment.
HIV is a virus that attacks the immune system. If untreated, a person’s immune system will eventually be completely destroyed, according to Avert, an organization based in the United Kingdom.
AIDS, on the other hand, refers to a set of symptoms and illnesses that occur at the very final stage of HIV infection.
Preventing the spread of HIV-AIDS is one of the targets under Goal 3 of the 17 goals of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals adopted by world leaders in September 2015. (SARWELL Q. MENIANO/PNA)