GENERAL SANTOS CITY – An advocacy group here has raised concern over the renewed surge of Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS) cases here this year.
Cris Lopera, executive director of gender rights and reproductive health advocate Shine Soccskargen Inc., said on Thursday they worried about the increase in confirmed cases in the city in the past several months, especially among younger individuals.
He said the infections could become a major problem for the city if not immediately given proper attention by concerned agencies.
A report from the City Health Office’s (CHO) HIV/AIDS Core Team showed that the confirmed cases in the city already increased to 112 as of the end of September, a significant increase from the 44 detected last year.
A total of 27 new HIV/AIDS cases were reported on July, 23 in August, and 18 in September, with the youngest involving a 15-year-old male.
Most of the cases involved individuals who were engaged in “risky sexual behaviors.” They include gays, bisexuals, men who have sex with men or MSMs, and others who engage in unprotected sex and with multiple partners.
Lopera said local stakeholders, including the city government, should take another look at the situation and not just focus on the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
He said the city’s HIV/AIDS Council, which is composed of various agencies and stakeholders, last held a meeting more than two years ago.
The council should be reactivated as soon as possible to address issues and concerns regarding the rising infections and the welfare of persons living with HIV.
“We should not wait for the cases to increase to 100 every month before we act on the problem,” he said in an interview.
Zyrnx John Octavio, CHO-HACT nurse and counselor, earlier said they have sustained their advocacy campaigns coordination with the rural health units and other stakeholders despite the continuing Covid-19 pandemic.
He said this includes the conduct of information and education campaigns as well as the free voluntary testing or screening services.
CHO’s Social Hygiene Clinic provides free counseling and antiretroviral therapy treatment for HIV/AIDS patients in coordination with the Department of Health (DOH).
The DOH accredited the clinic in 2018 as a satellite treatment hub for HIV/AIDS patients. (PNA)