IN NUMBERS: HIV cases in the rise in Central Visayas
CEBU CITY, Philippines – The number of confirmed human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in Central Visayas continues to increase.
From 878 in 2021, HIV cases in the region grew to 1,007 in 2022, data from the Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (Resu) of the Department of Health (DOH-7) showed.
And for the first eight months of 2023, health officials already recorded close to 1,000 new HIV cases.
Based on the same data, an additional 980 HIV patients were logged between January and August this year.
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic arrived, the number of HIV cases in Central Visayas has been on an upward trend.
Since 2013, the number of people living with HIV has been increasing until 2020 when it dipped to 548, which is largely attributed to COVID-related restrictions.
Since 1984, there have been more than 10,000 individuals in Central Visayas who were infected with the virus.
Of this number, 531 were mortalities.
This means that 1 out of 20 people with HIV in Central Visayas died due to the infection, which becomes Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) when left untreated.
Majority of HIV-related deaths came from Cebu, with 458 fatalities.
Furthermore, 8 out of 10 people diagnosed with HIV were males, and the remaining were females.
According to Resu, the most common mode of transmission is male-to-male sex, with 3 out of 10 patients reported to have acquired the virus through this.
Improper or unsafe injection practices followed it.
Persons who inject drugs (PWID) account for around 21 percent of the total number of individuals diagnosed with HIV in Central Visayas.
The third and fourth most common modes of transmission of HIV in the region are sex with both male and female and male to female sex respectively.
A huge portion of the HIV cases in Central Visayas still came from Cebu, which has the biggest population among other island provinces and is considered the commercial and economic center in the region.
HIV is transmitted through the exchange of body fluids, such as blood, breast milk, semen, and vaginal secretions. Unborn babies can also get infected with it as the virus can be transmitted during pregnancy.
On the other hand, people cannot spread HIV through ordinary day-to-day contact such as kissing, hugging, shaking hands, or sharing personal objects, food, or water, the World Health Organization (WHO) said.
While HIV has no cure, it is a preventable disease. To prevent it from spreading further, stakeholders have been advocating and urging the public to adopt safe health practices.
These included having safe sex by using protection such as condoms and undergoing tests for possible sexually transmitted infections (STI).
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