ILOILO CITY: To strengthen awareness of the dreaded effects of sexually transmitted disease, the town of Oton, some 12 kilometers south of this city, will host the 33rd International AIDS Candlelight Memorial tomorrow, Sunday.
The Department of Health regional office (DOH6) reported that Oton leads in the number of HIV cases in Iloilo province. Closely following Oton are the municipalities of Pototan, Pavia, Calinog, San Enrique, Janiuay, Cabatuan, Barotac Nuevo, Tigbauan and Passi City.
Dr. Elvie Villabos, chief of infectious disease and DOH cluster head, said the increase of HIV-AIDS cases is alarming, with one new case per day in 2008, to 27 new diagnosed cases per day in February 2016, or about 31,911 cases by February this year.
In Western Visayas, the health department diagnosed one case every 23 hours, and placed the region at 2 percent in volume of incidence. Region 4-A has 17 percent, Region 7, 13 percent; Region 11, 8 percent; and Region 3, 9 percent.
DOH said that from 2011 to 2015, newly diagnosed HIV cases among young key affected populations (YKAP) increased by 230 percent of which, male-to-male sex and males who have sex with both male and female were the two predominant modes of transmission.
The high-risk age group indulges in unprotected sex without fully understanding the consequence of their behavior, the DOH added.
The 33rd memorial celebration has the theme “Engage, Educate, Empower,” which emphasizes the need for people living with and affected by HIV to join hands and work together in the response to HIV. Only when involving people with HIV can resources be used efficiently to provide a sustainable HIV response for universal access to quality health and social services.
The whole day celebration in Oton will have a sports fest among the lesbian, gay and transgender (LGBT) community followed by HIV counseling and testing. A Mass will be held at 3 p.m.