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Cebu City seaman latest AIDS victim

First Posted 09:01:00 12/02/2007

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A 44-year-old seaman from Cebu City is the latest victim of the Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) in Cebu.

Dr. Rene Josef Bullecer, executive director of the AIDS-Free Philippines, said yesterday the seaman is among 13 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who were diagnosed to have AIDS.

The 13 are among the 17 cases of full-blown AIDS diagnosed by AIDS-Free Philippines this year.

Most of the victims were diagnosed to have HIV in the previous years.
These 17 AIDS victims were diagnosed in Cebu, but some of them came from Negros and Leyte areas.

Bullecer said there?s a 14 percent increase of HIV-AIDS cases in Cebu and an 8 percent increase nationwide.

Bullecer gave this figures as the world celebrated World AIDS Day yesterday.

Bullecer said he was not alarmed with the figures but with the trend of majority of the AIDS victims in Cebu being OFWs, particularly seamen.

?What is alarming is more than half ani nila... 13 are OFWs. Makita nimo nga ang pattern sa infection kaniadtong 10 or 15 years ago involved local entertainers, prostitutes, homosexuals, pero karon mga OFW na (You can send the pattern of infection 10 or 15 years ago involved local entertainers, prostitutes, homosexuals. But now they involve OFWs),? Bullecer said.

Bullecer said that the latest victim was first suspected to have HIV early this year but he was still able to finish his third contract abroad as a seaman.

When he returned this May, the AIDS symptoms were already showing.

Last September, health authorities confirmed he had full-blown AIDS.

Bullecer said the seaman suspected he got the HIV virus when his vessel docked in Brazil in 2003.

?He had multiple partners with women abroad,? Bullecer said.

The seaman is just undergoing treatment at the hospital constantly but is still living in his house in Cebu City with his family.

The seaman's children whose ages are 7 and 3 are negative of the virus.

The seaman's wife however refused to undergo the HIV test.

?Maybe out of fear. She is still in a denial stage?, Bullecer said.

Bullecer said he is 99.9 percent sure that the wife is also afflicted with HIV.

He said the latest fatality of AIDS in Cebu City in March last year was the wife of a seaman. The seaman also died last year.

The increase in the cases of HIV-AIDS was revealed yesterday as part of the World AIDS Day celebrations.

Bullecer said the World Aids Day started 15 years ago so that every country and its leaders will have a general awareness on the global heath concern about HIV-AIDS.

Of the 220 countries worldwide, he said, no one could claim that there?s no problem of HIV-AIDS.

As of today, Bullecer said, there are 56-million people afflicted with both HIV and AIDS, but 80 percent of these cases belonged to the African countries.

In the Philippines, Bullecer said, there are 3,119 cases of HIV-AIDS since the it was first detected in May 1984.

But this year alone from January to Nov. 30, there ae 175 HIV and AIDS cases. Of the 175 cases, 65 are full-blown AIDS cases.

Since it was first detected, Cebu has 161 cases of both HIV and AIDS. And 19 of these victims had already died.

Bullecer, however, said that the Philippines is being admired by the United Nations because it has the lowest number of cases in all Asian countries.

He said Singapore has over 5,000 HIV and AIDS cases.

Bullecer said he is against different nongovernment organizations (NGOs)campaign affiliated with the government pushing for protected sex as the only way to avoid AIDS.

?As long as we use condom, di gyud ka ma HIV. But that is misleading?, he said.

He said the only way to avoid HIV or AIDS is fidelity with your wife or husband.

?We will never adopt the mentality of complacency because this virus strike anybody?, he said.

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