THE Provincial Health Office (PHO) confirmed that there are 97 confirmed cases of HIV in Pangasinan recorded from Jan. to June this year, but clarifies the victims may be or may not be in the province.
According to Kenneth Dacion, PHO HIV-AIDS program coordinator, PHO no longer traces victims in compliance to R.A. 11166 to guarantee confidentiality to those who had themselves tested.
He said respective cities or municipalities only provide the data for planning and monitoring purposes so PHO cannot establish the whereabouts of the HIV infected persons.
Dacion said of the total number, three confirmed HIV cases were tested in Pangasinan, adding that 80 percent of the confirmed cases are between 15 to 35 years old.
PHO has since intensified its awareness information campaign on HIV in local government units (LGUs) and schools.
“The youth and young professionals are high risk population, hence, we are holding awareness campaigns in schools,” he said and encouraged LGUs to activate their mandated Local AIDS Council to address the increasing number of HIV cases in their towns.
He added that the law, has since lowered the age from 18 to 15 who are allowed to be tested without parents’ consent.
“The test can be availed for free in public hospitals and clinics and it will be confidential,” Dacion explained. “Even the treatment for positive cases, he said, can be availed for free through PhilHealth,” he added.
PhilHealth covers P7,500 per quarter or Php30,000 a year for the treatment of confirmed HIV-AIDS in Region 1 Medical Center in Dagupan city.
“The only way to know if you are positive is to have yourself tested because the symptoms are very similar with other diseases. The symptoms may show after three months of contact. We also conduct counseling to correct wrong assumptions about HIV-AIDS,” he said.
He also advised the parents to discuss sex education with their children.
There have been 767 confirmed cases in Pangasinan as of June this year, he said. (Helen Martin)
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