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MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Health is alarmed by the rising cases of HIV in Zamboanga City, where eight of 45 people who tested positive for the virus that causes AIDS were revealed to be young people aged 16-24.
The eight are from different universities in Zamboanga and most are males who engaged in sexual intercourse with the same sex. They are currently under the care and protection of Human Development Empowerment Services of the City Health Office.
According to the DOH, of all HIV-positive cases recorded, 292 are aged 24 and below. Recently, two patients died.
Common causes of AIDS are unsafe sex, sexual intercourse with same sex and infected needles.
Global Fund to stop support for program
Besides the increasing number of HIV-positive cases, the health agency is facing another problem. This November, Global Fund (an international organization) will stop supporting the cases of AIDS in the country due to lack of funds.
Meanwhile, the local government of Zamboanga will implement an HIV Awareness Campaign to increase the awareness of local residents about the disease.
DOH Assistant Secretary Enrique Tayag, ticked off the measures taken by the agency in guiding patients, particularly the younger ones with HIV-AIDS cases. "Unang-una, meron tayong mga voluntary counselling and testing centers para dun sa mga kabataan na gusto nilang malaman ang status nila, pwede silang magpa-test. [Firstly, we have voluntary counselling and testing centers for the youth if they want to know more about their situation; [and] they can have tests."
"Importante rin kasi dito ang suporta ng pamilya lalo na dun sa mga wala pang labing-walong taong gulang. At ang pamahalaan naman ay maaasahan nila na magbibigay ng serbisyo. Katunayan pati antiretroviral treatment ay libre sa center. [For the parents, their support and guidance is important especially for those who are not yet 18 years old. The health agency will also render service. In fact, antiretroviral treatment is given free at the centers.]," Tayag added.
The DOH is proposing a long-term program with the Department of Education (DepEd) which seeks to include sex education in schools. Parents are also expected to join the activity.
Tayag said, Right now, DepEd does not have plans for advancing sex education in schools. That's why we are obliged to work with Civil Society wherein we will do ways to disseminate proper information. And of course, media will also be tapped." - with Aliana Gimena, InterAksyon.com