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The Department of Health’s (DOH) office in the Mimaropa region has recorded about 100 HIV-positive cases in Palawan province since the establishment of the Ospital ng Palawan (ONP) – Red Top Center in May 2015.

Half of the cases belonged to the 25-40 age group; 40 percent to the 15-24 age bracket; and 10 percent were 41 years old and above.

“These patients are all enrolled and already undergoing treatment and management at the center. The rise in the number of cases does not necessarily mean that HIV in the province is increasing but it is due to the growing number of people who are now aware of the disease and voluntarily visiting HIV clinics to be tested for them to know their HIV status,” regional health office director Eduardo Janairo said in a news release issued Friday.

The regional health office, the ONP, and other health offices are continuously monitoring the development of the HIV situation in the region, which covers Oriental and Occidental Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, and Palawan, to check the spread of the virus.

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A health information drive and other HIV awareness activities are ongoing in various communities, even those in remote areas.

”HIV is everyone’s business and everybody must be properly educated about the virus,” Janairo said.

The ONP-Red Top Center, from Jan. 1 to April 30 this year, has recorded 24 new cases, including a pregnant woman. Six of them did not feel symptoms of the disease.

“These new cases were already given anti-retro viral (ARV) drugs to prevent the spread of the virus inside the body,” Janairo said.

The ONP-Red Top Center, the region’s first HIV/AIDS testing center, offers round-the-clock HIV tests and provides HIV prevention and treatment services, including pre- and post-test counseling.

Mimaropa’s health office now has two HIV/AIDS Satellite Treatment Centers — one at the Occidental Mindoro Provincial Hospital in Mamburao and the ONP-Red Top HIV/AIDS Treatment Center in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan.

According to the March 2017 HIV/AIDS and ART Registry of the Philippines (HARP) report, there are now a total of 968 newly diagnosed cases. This is 32 percent higher compared to the same period last year with 735 cases. It is also the highest monthly figure recorded since 1984.

Mimaropa ranks ninth among the leading provinces with HIV cases, with 3 percent. There has been a 2 percent increase in cases since February.

Metro Manila or the National Capital Region leads with 309 cases (32 percent), followed by CALABARZON with 135 (14 percent); Central Luzon with 107 (11 percent); Central Visayas with 76 cases (8 percent); and Davao region with 52 cases (5 percent). The remaining 289 cases were from the rest of the country.

“HIV still has no cure. No vaccine to prevent the spread of the virus. The only protection is through proper education about HIV and practicing safe sex. It is best to submit yourself for an HIV test to know your HIV status. Testing is free and confidential in all DOH-accredited clinics nationwide,” Janairo said. (DOH-MimaropaPR)

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