The top health official of the provincial government said that he wants identities of those with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) known to the public as part of measures to stop the spread of the infection.
“Personally, I would want it announced [identities],” Provincial Health Office (PHO) chief Dr. Reymoses Cabagnot said in Cebuano. “This way, you can avoid engaging in any mode of transmission with them.”
According to Cabagnot who aired his personal view on the issue, majority of the population would be protected by publicly identifying those with HIV who “knowingly or unknowingly” spread the infection.
“You wouldn’t know which people to avoid in modes of transmission since there is a law that gives protection to people who have tested positive,” he said. “You can’t publicly say that Juan dela Cruz is positive of HIV or AIDS.”
As stipulated in Republic Act 8504, privacy of individuals with HIV shall be guaranteed and discrimination, in all its forms and subtleties, against those with HIV or persons suspected of having the infection shall be considered “inimical to individual and national interest.”
Cabagnot’s statement came after the Department of Health (DOH) released a data indicating that Bohol ranked second behind densely populated Cebu in terms of HIV cases in the four-province Region VII.
Based on the data, 153 HIV cases were recorded in Bohol from 1984 to June of 2017 while 27 cases of the disease developed into full-blown Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).
According to Cabagnot, the data is alarming particularly as the information only includes cases that have been recorded by authorities.
The local health official noted that practicing safe sex, which could mean condom use or not having multiple partners, can lessen the risk of contracting HIV.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) has noted that HIV testing is a critical and essential gateway to HIV prevention, treatment and care.
Testing could also maximize opportunities for the people living with HIV to access treatment.
Antiretroviral therapy (ART), an HIV treatment, has the potential to reduce mortality and morbidity rates among HIV-infected people, and to improve their quality of life, said the WHO.
Several celebrities across the world including Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach have openly subjected themselves to HIV testing as part of efforts to raise awareness on the virus.
Advocacies such as that of Wurtzbach’s have been intended to fight against the prevailing stigma on HIV and getting tested for the infection. (AD)