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City health department to use bulk of P2M for HIV tests, counseling’

/ 11:04 AM May 14, 2011

CEBU CITY Health Department (CHD) head Dr. Stella Ygoña yesterday said the bulk of their P2 million program to fight HIV-AIDS will be spent on an information drive against the incurable disease, counseling patients and testing individuals at risk.

“By this, we will have to empower them through campaigns about what is HIV and how can it be transmitted,” she said.

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Ygoña said the budget will also cover the maintenance of their social hygiene clinic.

They also started to produce flyers that identify risky behavior and encourages people get tested for HIV.

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The CHD offers free HIV testing in their hygiene clinic.

In December last year, the City Council raised the CHD budget P2 million.

Ygoña said they will no longer buy condoms, which they believe can stop the spread of HIV, because the Department of Health provides them.

As of March 2011, the CHD recorded at least 293 cases of HIV in Cebu City since 1989.

Of the 293 cases, 12 were registered sex workers, six were freelance workers and the others were intravenous drug users.

In 2010, the number of HIV cases rose to 182.

This year, 16 males tested positive for HIV. Ten were intravenous drug users while six were men who had sex with men.

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There were no reported cases of HIV-positive mothers transmitting the virus to their babies.

A sexually active 15-year-old boy who used intravenous drugs is the youngest HIV-positive person, said Dr. Ilya Tac-an, CHD social hygiene clinic head.

Medicine is available to slow the development but not cure the disease.

“Once you are HIV positive, you are HIV positive for life,” said Tac-an.

Dr. Abelardo Alera, head of the HIV/AIDS Care Team, said medicine supplied by the Department of Health and supported by the Global Fund medicines are given to the patients.

The leading cause of HIV transmission is needle sharing by drug users followed by unprotected sexual intercourse, he said.

The CHD team advised people to go to Voluntary Counseling and Testing (VCT) centers for diagnosis and early treatments

VCT centers serve patients through confidentiality and emotional and psychological support.

The team also advised sexually active young people to practice “safe sex” by using condoms.

Dr. Tac-an said HIV-negative individuals are responsible for protecting themselves and should not blame people who have HIV.

“Universal precautions should also be observed by health care professionals,” said Patrick Ty, representative of the Tonette Lopez Foundation.

The CHD pointed out that people with HIV can still live normal productive lives as long as they are under treatment.

“You can never tell (they have the disease) by just looking (at them),” said Alera.

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