City to step up awareness, prevention efforts vs HIV

THE CITY government has renewed its advocacy for continuous education and prevention efforts against HIV.

City Councilor Mary Joselle Dilig-Villafuerte, who heads the committee on health, said there is a need to revisit existing campaigns and fill up the gaps, if necessary.

“As Davao City remains to be in the top regions in the country with high HIV rates, there is a need to intensify campaigns and help DOH with their new strategies under the Philippine Health Agenda,” Villafuerte said.

Last March 19, an HIV awareness day was held in the Davao Crocodile Park football field.

It gathered health groups and sports enthusiasts for a day of frisbee, football and Crossfit. There was also an adventure race held throughout the city. The event, called HIV Awareness Cup, also featured HIV testing and counseling sessions conducted by the City Health Office and the Department of Health.

Red Whistle ambassadors also graced the event: Daiana Menezes, JC Santos, Charlie Sutcliffe, and Katarina Rodriguez.

Villafuerte added that the city government will extend support to make each activity every year bigger with more private partners and more sports events.

“We can sustain these efforts by inviting more concerned groups. We will invite more schools and barangays especially those who are vulnerable,” she said.

She said that the private sector has also committed to support the program.

“We have enough test kits and medicines for treatment. What we need is continuous campaign against risky sex behavior,” she said.

Villafuerte also said that she witnessed a good response among the youth on the cause.

“Some had their HIV test and all participated in the sports events, which became a good medium to send the message across. Sports became a platform to gather people to discuss HIV. We must try all strategies especially thru a very positive event like sports,” she said.

Data from the Reproductive Health and Wellness Center (RHWC) showed that HIV has affected 401 persons from January to November 2016. Of this number, 345 people have HIV while 56 others have AIDS. Males comprise 381 of the cases while the rest of the 20 are females.

RHWC head physician Dr. Jordana Ramiterre said that while there is still no cure to HIV, treatments to keep the to keep a person’s viral load (the amount of HIV in the blood) at undetectable levels are readily available.

“Don’t wait for signs and symptoms to catch up,” Ramiterre said, referring to the opportunistic infections that may enter the body when it’s weakened by HIV.

HIV is transmitted by having unprotected sex (anal, vaginal) with someone who has the virus and by sharing needles/syringes used to prepare injection drugs. Only certain body fluids from an HIV-infected person can transmit HIV. These body fluids are: blood, semen (cum), pre-seminal fluid (pre-cum), rectal fluids, vaginal fluids, breast milk.

HIV is not transmitted by air or water, insects (mosquitoes), saliva, sweat, tears, casual physical contact (hugging, shaking hands, sharing eating utensils), and toilet seats, although these common misconceptions still exist, leading to the stigma.

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