ILOILO CITY, May 11 (PIA)--- Males are now the most vulnerable to HIV/AIDS infections.
Ms. Charity Perea, STI-Coordinator of the Department of Health in Western Visayas said that based on their record, most of the new cases are males who got the virus through sex with other males.Many of these men who were infected have wives, or have sex with women as well as men, and might have transmitted HIV to their female partners if they had been infected, Perea said.
DOH Western Visayas records show that sexual contact has been the usual mode of transmission of HIV or human immunodeficiency virus. Perea said that from "hiding but growing", the trend for HIV transmission in the country is now "fast and furious." The DOH National Epidemiology Center cumulative record from January to March 2011 showed that there were 483 reported cases and most of the cases (99%) were males.
Of the 483 HIV positive cases, seven were reported as AIDS cases. Eighty-six percent were males. The DOH AIDS Registry also showed that from 1984 to 2011, there were 864 AIDS cases of which 71 % of the said figure were males.For Western Visayas, Perea noted that the first case in Western Visayas came out in 1994 and since then it took eight years for others to come out in the open as a result of the advocacy of the government through the Regional multi-sectoral council formed by the DOH to reach out to the people living with HIV and AIDS.
"The phasing of the coming out of the people with HIV/AIDS during this period was tagged as "low and slow" then in year 2005 it was "hiding and growing" and now it is "fast and furious," Perea said.
From 1994 to December 2009 some 86 cases were recorded in the region and by August 2010 it increased to 105 and on February 2011, the accumulated number of HIV/AIDS recorded in Western Visayas is 134. Of the said number, 32 died, leaving 102 who are now receiving government assistance and some of them are actively involved in the campaign to educate the public about HIV/AIDS.
This year, seven new HIV/AIDS cases surfaced in the region and are still being validated by the DOH, Perea said as she emphasized that this should not alarm everyone because "we did something good for them, our advocacy is gaining ground to convince those who are afflicted with the disease to come out in the open and avail of the health assistance by the government and by other NGOs".
Perea believes there may be many of the victims who are still afraid to come out in the open because of fear and stigma associated with AIDs. The DOH Western Visayas record shows that the mode of HIV transmission is sexual contact at 98.5% while 2 or 1.5% through blood transfusion.
"Of the 132 People Living with HIV in the region, 67 were infected through heterosexual relations; 20 bisexual; and 45 homosexual relations and 2 through blood transfusion.Forty-six percent of HIV infections were attributed to the overseas Filipino workers and out of the 32 seafarers recorded, 18 wives have been infected too.
"There is still no cure for AIDS, " Perea said as she explained that HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. It is the virus that causes AIDS. A member of a group of viruses called retroviruses, HIV infects human cells and uses the energy and nutrients provided by those cells to grow and reproduce, while AIDS stands for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. It is a disease in which the body's immune system breaks down and is unable to fight off infections, known as "opportunistic infections," and other illnesses that take advantage of a weakened immune system.