HIV and AIDS cases in Puerto Princesa City continue to increase, records of the City Health Office show.
As of June 2019, the City has a total of 240 cases including full-blown AIDS and those who already passed away from the disease.
Most of persons are aged between 15 to 24 years of age, and 25 to 34. They are randomly composed of students, teachers, out of school youth, professionals, mall workers and sex workers, and primarily spread through male-to-male sexual contact.
Out of 66 barangays in the city, 40 have recorded cases.
The city government’s volunteer program led the testing and screening. The City Health Office aims to empower the city government’s volunteer program, as part of its mandate in every barangay council, including the Sangguniang Kabataan.
According to Gie Villapa, a medical technician of the health office, said a major factor of this increase is because of social media connections such as dating apps. However there is no concrete proof to prove their conjecture.
“Di natin masabi kasi walang study na ginawa. Pero, isang factor ‘yun, actually malaki yung effect nya sa sexual behavior ng mga kabataan,” Villapa said during Kapihan sa PIA forum yesterday, November 27, 2019.
The increase in cases according to Villapa is due to Mayor Lucilo Bayron’s commitment to declare the city zero HIV by 2020, which is the very reason they empowered their network in every community, to strictly monitor, conduct counseling and conduct free screening and testing. She mentioned Brgy. San Miguel topping in their list that have high cases of HIV.
“Kaya po natin nasabi na mataas ang San Miguel kasi andun yung treatment facility sa kanila, yung Ospital ng Palawan sa Brgy. San Miguel, yung bilang na yun, mataas yung pumupunta dun for treatment. Hindi po sya nag-re-reflect ng number of cases ng barangay,” Villapa explained.
Persons living with HIV need not worry in terms of treatment. The Ospital ng Palawan is equipped with facilities that can monitor the patient’s status and conduct tests, therefore eliminating the need to go to Manila to continue treatment.
“Since 2015 ay na-establish na yung ating center sa Ospital ng Palawan, supported po yan ng DOH sa mga gamot at saka Philhealth, kasi may outpatient package for HIV. Meron na tayo facility dito di na kailangan pumunta ng Manila. Soon, magkakaroon na rin ng viral load testing dito,” Villapa said.
The whole province of Palawan has 394 HIV cases and a total of 805 in Region 4-B MIMAROPA as of this writing.
“Yung 2018, meron tayong more than 30 cases sa isang taon. We’re expecting na tataas yan kasi dahil dun sa ating mga train na mga authority-based HIV Screening motivators na mas marami silang mahihikayat na magpa-testing. Hindi lang yan sa Puerto; naging strategy na rin yan ng ating Provincial Health Office,” Villapa said.