Alarmed by the increasing number of HIV/AIDS cases in Central Visayas particularly in Bohol, Bohol First District Representative Rene Relampagos has urged local leaders and stakeholders to further intensity the fight against this deadly disease through public awareness campaign.
Citing data from the Department of Health (DOH), Relampagos noted that of the four provinces in Central Visayas region, Bohol ranked second to Cebu province on the number of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infected persons, excluding perhaps those who were not under monitoring of the Department of Health-7.
â€œThe rate at which HIV cases is spreading is very alarming and therefore, warrants our attention and pro-active actions,â€ Relampagos stressed.
According to research, the Philippines ranked as the third country with the fastest rising number of cases of AIDS in the world. The number of Filipinos with HIV rose to 30,650 last year and the figure is expected to rise this year.
â€œMost Filipinos, especially the young ones, are not aware about how HIV is acquired and spreads as well as the risks of unprotected sex due to lack of information,â€ he explained.
He added, â€œpublic awareness campaign is crucial in preventing the spread of this deadly disease. The government should adopt an aggressive and consistent information campaign on the reality of HIV and its negative impact on human development.â€
Data reveals that most of the Filipinos affected with HIV belong to the age bracket 15 to 24 years old. The DOH said that among the factors that contributed to the prevalence of HIV in the Philippines are lifestyle, local tourism, and the emergence of social networking.
While the preventive aspect is important, Relampagos said, health authorities should also intensify efforts to remove the social stigma of the disease and help those afflicted with the disease to live normal lives. Known in the international human rights system as â€œpersons living with HIV/AIDS,â€ they are recognized as a vulnerable sector of society and must be accorded due guidance and protection.
As of latest count, Bohol has fallen into an alarming situation of becoming a hot spot due to the continuing rise of HIV, with Central Visayas region now ranking second in the country.
DOH-7 records showed that, as of the month of February, Cebu topped the number of cases in Central Visayas with 67 persons living with AIDS and 1,872 being found positive of HIV. Bohol follows with 58 persons infected with HIV.