PUERTO PRINCESA CITY – This highly-urbanized capital city of the island province of Palawan has the highest number of positive human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) cases in the whole MIMAROPA region.
This was disclosed early evening Sunday by Department of Health (DOH)-MIMAROPA Regional Director Dr. Eduardo Janairo, who led the kick-off of the National HIV Week here by conducting a mobile HIV testing in various entertainment nightspots with the assistance of the City Health Office (CHO), the Provincial Health Office (PHO), and the Ospital ng Palawan (ONP).
The health regional director told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) that eight individuals here tested positive of HIV during the first quarter of the year, and three of AIDS. One AIDS positive was just recently confirmed.
All three, who tested positive of AIDS, belong to the MSM (men having sex with men); and one of the eight HIV patients, is a convict in a detention facility in Puerto Princesa, who is from Cebu.
“The highest number of HIV/AIDS cases in the whole MIMAROPA is in Puerto Princesa. If you will look at the figure, it’s not really that many, but they’re recorded only here. The problem is we have to fix this before it worsens,” Janairo said.
Janairo added all are identified, being monitored, and being supported with free antiretroviral drugs to prevent the progress of their disease by boosting their immune systems.
“HIV/AIDS is transportable; it got here by coming from another place. If that person does not know he/she has the disease, and he/she engages in risky behaviors with others, then the disease will spread,” Janairo said when asked if it’s possible that tourism had a hand in bringing the virus to the province.
Meanwhile, Vice Mayor Luis Marcaida III, who was informed by Janairo about the recorded cases, expressed that he is contemplating on filing a measure that would further impose strict HIV testing on those working at entertainment nightspots.
“It is alarming what Dr. Janairo informed us, that in the MIMAROPA, the highest cases recorded are here in Puerto Princesa,” he said.
He added that he will be consulting with the Committee on Health in the Sangguniang Panlungsod regarding the filing of a measure that would urge entertainment establishments to submit their workers for HIV testing in the treatment hub at the ONP to promote its mission.
Janairo said it is important to endorse the HIV Red Top Testing Center that was opened Monday at the ONP.
“We are encouraging every individual, who practices risky behaviors, such as those having unprotected sex with multiple partners, or with someone of unknown HIV status, sharing injection drug needles to submit themselves for HIV testing because it is the only way to stop the infection and spread of the virus,” he said during Sunday’s mobile HIV testing in entertainment nightspots in Puerto Princesa in adherence to DOH Sec. Janette Loreto-Garin’s call for voluntary testing of persons at risk.
From January to March 2015, the DOH-MIMAROPA said the Philippine HIV/AIDS Registry recorded a total of two positive and 14 asymptomatic cases.
Palawan has one positive and eight asymptomatic cases (experiences no symptoms) – one in Cuyo island town, one in Aborlan, one in Taytay, and five in Puerto Princesa – compared to Mindoro that has one positive and three asymptomatic cases, Marinduque with one asymptomatic, and also one in Romblon.
According to the regional health chief, workers at the treatment hub, the first-ever in the MIMAROPA, can help “reduce an individual’s risk of becoming infected, impart information on how to preclude the spread of the virus to others, and teach patients on how to deal with the complex disease socially, emotionally, professionally, and financially, and how to keep healthy and fit as long as possible.”
As part of the National HIV Week, free HIV testing at the ONP treatment hub will be until May 15.