Rising HIV cases in Naga alarm City Health Office

NAGA CITY (Bicol Standard)—The number of HIV positive patients in this city has reached alarming levels.

This was the statement of Dr. Vito “Butch” Borja, City Health Officer, in an interview by Bicol Standard.

“The youngest victim, thus far, is 14 years old, an out-of-school youth. Many of them are between 18 to 28 years old.”

One hundred percent of the patients are male, and most are members of the LGBT, while others are OFWs or seamen.

In 2019, they recorded 42 cases of HIV positive patients here, which is significantly higher as compared to previous years, Borja said.

“This is also probably due to our intensified monitoring, surveillance, and establishment of satellite sites,” Borja surmised.

“In fact, during some bloodletting activities, we discover donors who are positive for HIV, so refer them for further tests,” he added.

Meanwhile, based on their interviews, many of those who engage in risky sexual behavior are sex workers who frequent Plaza Quince Martires.

As a response, the City Health Office conducts regular tests, not only for HIV, but also for other Sexually-Transmitted Diseases (STD) such as Hepatitis B and syphilis.

He also bared that during their regular monitoring, the most common STDs are gonorrhea, chlamydia, vaginosis, and herpes.

“However, these STDs are treatable diseases, although admittedly the treatment is costly. This is why we deemed it wise to provide the drugs for these common diseases for free, so as not to leave any opportunity for the diseases to spread further,” he said.

He also explained that there is also difficulty in monitoring the activities of sex workers since many of them are transients.

He added that there is an intensified campaign to require said workers to register and have themselves checked at the City Health Office for detection of STDs.

“We should not be complacent and unmindful of this problem, since most of those affected are the younger generation. Besides, it is a growing public health concern for our city,” Borja concluded.