DEPARTMENT of Health Regional Office IV-B Director Eduardo C. Janairo on Thursday reminded tourists going to Puerto Galera in Oriental Mindoro to refrain from having unprotected sex as it is identified as one of the areas in the country where Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) continues to be a major concern.
“We have to stop the rising cases of HIV cases in the country by providing accurate information to the public. HIV is not highly contagious and cannot be transmitted through air (such as coughing and sneezing), mosquito bites, talking with an infected person, borrowing clothes from an HIV-infected person, shaking hands and embracing and sharing swimming pools,” Janairo said.
“HIV is preventable like most diseases and the most effective way to avoid it is by abstinence from sex, having only one sex partner, using condoms, avoid sharing needles/syringes and educating oneself on the pros and cons of HIV,” he stressed.
DOH said Puerto Galera is listed as a Category C Area, where there is higher risk of HIV spread. Among the high-risk groups prone to AIDS and HIV are female sex workers (FSWs), males having sex with males (MSMs), injecting drug users (IDUs), and overseas foreign workers (OFWs).
In February 2014, the Philippine HIV and AIDS Registry reported 486 new HIV positive individuals confirmed by the STD/AIDS Cooperative Central Laboratory (SACCL). The figure is 43% higher compared to the same period last year with 339 cases. Most cases were male from 18-63 years old. Most of those affected were from the 20-29 years old.
Reported modes of transmission were sexual contact and needle sharing among injecting drug users. Men having sex with other men (MSM) is still the predominant mode of transmission at 83%.
“HIV/AIDS still has no cure and health officials can only provide information, diagnose and treat suspected patients. The best way is through safe practice of informed individuals,” Janairo concluded.