HIV Epidemic Reaches Eastern Samar; Testing Encouraged
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HIV Epidemic Reaches Eastern Samar; Testing Encouraged

Feb 12, 2024, 1:55 AM
Dubhe Ann Sumido

Dubhe Ann Sumido


EASTERN SAMAR - The HIV epidemic in the Philippines, particularly in Eastern Samar, is growing at an alarming rate. According to UNAIDS, the country's HIV prevalence increased by 207% from 2010 to 2019, and AIDS-related deaths rose by 338% during the same period. Despite some progress, the Philippines is still far from achieving the UNAIDS 90-90-90 target aimed at ending the HIV epidemic.

The Eastern Samar Provincial Health Office reports that 28 individuals in the province, 27 males and one female, have contracted HIV. Health officials emphasize that most of these infections occur through interpersonal engagements among males. Borongan City and Dolores report 8 and 6 confirmed cases, respectively.

Health authorities are urging the public to get tested for HIV at designated facilities like Rural Health Units and the Eastern Samar Provincial Hospital, assuring that patient confidentiality is strictly maintained. Since 1984, Eastern Samar has recorded a total of 138 HIV cases.

In June 2022, the Department of Health (DOH) reported that HIV/AIDS cases in Eastern Visayas had reached 1,399 over the past 38 years. The count rose to 1,536 by August 2022 with the addition of 20 new confirmed cases.

The Eastern Visayas Medical Center (EVMC) is the first rapid HIV diagnostic algorithm (rHIVda) certified confirmatory testing laboratory in Region 8. In October 2023, the Department of Health Eastern Visayas Center for Health Development (DOH EVCHD) introduced the Abbott m-PIMA HIV 1/2 Viral load test, which can provide results in less than 70 minutes. This test is crucial in managing patients living with HIV more effectively.

The aim of HIV treatment is to achieve an undetectable viral load, usually within 3-6 months after starting the treatment. The availability of this test to the vulnerable population is a significant step in managing the HIV epidemic in the region.

Moreover, the DOH is working with health offices at various levels to ensure the availability of HIV testing centers. You can easily find a clinic near you for HIV screening by choosing your location or city and looking at the list of centers provided.

Early detection is key in managing HIV. Don't hesitate to get tested and know your status.

HIV TESTING. The HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) viral load machine donated by the Department of Health to hospitals in Eastern Visayas. The deployment is part of its strategy to prevent the spread of the sexually transmitted infection. (Photo courtesy of Department of Health Eastern Visayas)

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