February 28, 2024

Aggressive education and information dissemination against human immuno-virus/Acquired Immunodeficiency Deficiency Syndrome has to be implemented, as a drastic increase in cases is reported.

During the AIDS Watch Council (AWAC) meeting with government agencies and private partners on Sept. 8, City Health Services Office in-charge Dr. Celia Flor Brillantes said the HIV-infected populace should be tested, properly diagnosed, and enrolled to anti-retroviral treatment (ART) to lower and suppress viral load for people living with HIV (PLHIVs) and have them lead normal healthy lives.

An ART is a medical regimen, which reduces and keeps the amount of virus under control and renders the infection non-transmissible. Other conditions, including illness of other sources however, can persist even with ART.

The vulnerable population consists of men having sex with men (MSM), transgender women, female sex workers, people who use/inject drugs, persons deprived of liberty (PDL) and women and children.

Data shows not all key population have access to preventive services or are practicing protective behavior and not all PLHIVs are diagnosed and not all diagnosed PLHIVs are on ART.

An anti-STI/HIV/AIDS drive would increase knowledge on HIV transmission, prevention and services, provide combination prevention and access to services, and prevent new HIV infections. The cascade model is part of the 2030 United Nations AIDS target.  

Another important factor to consider is zero discrimination for PLHIVs since this often causes PLHIVs not to seek medical services for their condition

Brillantes assured those seeking treatment that all examinations and laboratory services are done in one area to ensure confidentiality.     

In 2011, six individuals were diagnosed daily; 21 in 2015; 35 in 2019 and 50 cases are reported daily this year.

In Baguio City, there were 21 cases in 2019; at least 14 cases in 2020; 31 in 2021; 56 in 2022; and for the first semester of 2023, there are 19 new cases. 

Of the country’s total annual cases there were two cases in 1984, a gradual increase through the years to 1,551 cases in 2010; 7,595 in 2015; 9,142 in 2016, 10,989 in 2017, 11,311 in 2018; and 12,727 in 2019. The figures dropped to 8,034 in 2020, climbed up to 12,333 in 2021 and 14,952 in 2022. The first half of this year yielded 6,059 cases.

Of the HIV cases enrolled in the Reproductive Health and Wellness Center, 60.37 percent are from Baguio, 11.94 percent from the other provinces of the Cordillera, and 27.67 percent from non-CAR areas.

From the target of 95 percent in 2022, however, 71.42 percent viral load coverage and 91.11 percent is virally suppressed. With the same target, the first semester of 2023 has 88.88 percent viral load coverage and 100 percent virally suppressed.

The meeting last week for the finalization of the implementing rules and regulations for Ordinance 16, s. 2021 or the Baguio City HIV/AIDS Prevention Ordinance was attended by Councilor Betty Lourdes Tabanda, Health Services Office personnel represented by Nurse Gayhope Alangsab, Reproductive Health and Wellness Center, representatives from Balay Marvi, Baguio Association of Night Spots, Philippine Association of Medical Technologists, Family Planning Organization of the Philippines, Transcend, Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center, People with Disability Affairs Office, and other concerned agencies. – Julie G. Fianza