BONTOC, Mountain Province – Health officials here are advising the public to follow the ABC method to prevent the transmission of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus/Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS) and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
The ABC stands for abstinence, being faithful or loyal to your partner, and correct and consistent use of a condom.
The call came as the Municipal Health Officer (MHO), Diga Kay Gomez, said the office recorded four STIs in the municipality from January to Aug. 30.
The MHO also said the increase in teenage pregnancy is alarming. Based on MHO records, there are nine teenage pregnancies from January to Aug. 30.
The MHO intensified its information, education, and communication (IEC) campaign on adolescent reproductive health in the barangays and schools.
The IEC material distributed by the Department of Health enumerated additional tips to prevent STIs and HIV/AIDS.
Aside from the ABC method, the public was advised to make sure all blood products received for transfusion are properly screened and for people not to share or use contaminated or unsterile needles or other skin-piercing instruments.
The MHO also advised the public to subject themselves to treatment for STIs promptly as possible and avoid drinking alcohol and use of prohibited drugs as it can impair judgment and lower inhibitions and may lead one to forget the practice of safer sex.
The hand book, “HIV/AIDS for Health Workers” provided by DOH, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and Remedios AIDS Foundation, Inc., explains HIV is transmitted through unprotected penetrative sexual intercourse with an infected partner, unsafe blood transfusion, unsafe injection, and from an HIV-infected mother to her child during pregnancy, labour, delivery, and through breast feeding. HIV hits the body’s defense mechanism that act against viruses.
Immunodeficiency means the body is unable to fight infections, making it susceptible to pneumonia, tuberculosis, and cancer. AIDS refers to clinical manifestation of HIV infection that is only seen when the body falls ill due to opportunistic infections.
The handbook further clarifies HIV cannot be transmitted through air; saliva, urine and feces; mosquito bite; talking with person with HIV; borrowing clothes from an HIV-infected person; sharing utensils and drinking from the same glass with person living with HIV; shaking of hands, embracing and kissing; toilets; and in the swimming pool.
While STIs are treatable, health authorities said the public should be informed of the preventive measures. STIs are infections passed through sexual contact.
Common STIs are gonorrhoea, chlamydia, HIV, hepatitis B/C, herpes, genital warts, syphilis, pubic lice and scabies. The common signs and symptoms are unusual vaginal discharge, unusual penile discharge, sores/ ulcer, burning sensation when urinating, swelling of the scrotum, and redness or itchiness around the vaginal or pelvic area.
Health officials said possible carriers of STIs are advised to do self-examinations and have themselves tested at their local health units. “Most STIs are treatable and it is the early detection that spells the difference between the easy and the difficult one. Left untreated, STIs may lead to serious complications for men, women and new-born babies. Complications include infertility, ectopic pregnancy, and pelvic inflammatory diseases,” as cited by the HIV/AIDS for Health Workers handbook. – Alpine L. Killa-Malwagay