Cebu City highest in HIV prevalence

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Recent data show that the number of people who inject drugs in Cebu has steadily increased since 2007 to 2014.

Cebu City (CNN Philippines) – Cebu City is ranked number one in terms of prevalence of Human Immunodeficiency Virust(HIV) among all cities in the country, an official from the Department of Health-7 (DOH-7) noted in a report Monday (June 8).

DOH-7 Assistant Director Dr. Lakshmi Legaspi said that based on the most recent data, Cebu City reported an HIV prevalence rate of 7.7%, ahead of Manila and Quezon City which logged 6.7% and 6.6%, respectively.

Legaspi, who spoke at the launching of DOH’s High Impact 5 program here, said the number of people who inject drugs in Cebu has steadily increased since 2007 to 2014.

The use of injectable drugs and needle-sharing have been tagged as the leading cause of HIV prevalence in Cebu City, followed by males who engage in sex with males, then by female entertainment or sex workers.

Among the regions, Central Visayas is currently ranked second next to the National Capital Region in the most number of persons living with HIV.

HIV morphs into the more serious AIDS or Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.

In Central Visayas, Cebu leads the provinces with 67 persons confirmed to be living with AIDS, and 1,872 others who have tested positive for HIV but have yet to show or feel symptoms.

Since 1984, at least 62 people from Central Visayas have died as a result of HIV/AIDS.

On a larger scale, the Philippines is said to be among the nine countries in the world with more than 25 percent growth in HIV prevalence, trailing behind Bangladesh and Indonesia which rank first and second, respectively.

Health officials here estimate that are 16 Filipinos who are potentially infected with HIV per day. It is common among males aged between 15 and 40 years old.

Legaspi noted there are now more Filipinos, especially the young ones, who turn in for HIV testing and this is attributed to the increased awareness of the disease and the presence of support groups.

Legaspi added that the DOH has bolstered its campaign to promote voluntary testing and provide anti-retroviral medicines for those positive of HIV and AIDS.