BAGUIO CITY: In observance of International AIDS Candlelight Memorial Day today, advocacy against HIV/AIDS is again being highlighted.
During the recent Department of Health-led Kapihan media forum here, a health expert stressed that HIV or Human Immunodeficiency virus can be transmitted by an infected mother to her unborn child.
Dr. Maria Lorena Santos, BGHMC Medial Specialist II, explained that there are four ways in which the HIV virus can be transmitted from one person to another. These are through sexual contact, blood transfusion, sharing of needles, and from a mother to a child.
Santos disclosed that since 2006, the BGHMC which is among the identified National HIV Screening and Treatment Center, has recorded 179 HIV cases with a 4-year-old and a 2-year-old children as among the recent cases.
The children got their HIV infections from their mothers, who unknowingly were infected even before they got pregnant, she said.
Santos advised people who are sexually active and who have multiple partners, including those who are engaged in risky sexual behaviors, to have themselves screened, not only for themselves but also for their future children.
Children have weaker immune system to fight such dreaded virus, which has no cure yet and only being managed through retrovirals.
Santos also affirmed that new cases of HIV infection continue to be alarming and that the patients or infected persons are getting younger and younger.
She disclosed that of the 179 cases recorded at BGHMC, 65 are in the 25 to 34 years old bracket and 39 cases are in the 15 to 24 years of age.
“This is another reason why people, even the young adults, who are engaging in risky sexual behavior, have to let themselves be screened. If they turned out negative then we can also give them information on how they can stay negative. If results are positive, they can be included in the medication program,” Santos said.
HIV is a life-long disease and many people with HIV worldwide are dying because they are not properly monitored and not given the right medication, Santos added.
In line with the DOH nationwide program, BGHMC will provide a free HIV testing and information drive this week.