HIVAIDS-AwarenessKoronadal City, South Cotabato – The Regional Social Development Committee (RSDC) XII has elevated to the NEDA Board Social Development Committee, for support and/or appropriate action, the concern on the increasing cases of confirmed sexually-transmitted infection/human immunodeficiency virus (STI/HIV)-positive individuals in Region XII, particularly in South Cotabato.

According to Dr. Rogelio Aturdido, Jr., Provincial Health Officer of South Cotabato, the recorded cumulative figure for STI/HIV-positive individuals in the province, as of March 2015, totaled to 254 cases.

“Males having sex with other males is the predominant mode of transmission of the infections and few are caused by needle sharing among injecting drug users”, Dr. Aturdido said.

“One of the contributing factors to the rise in STI/HIV-AIDS detection rate in South Cotabato is the increasing awareness of the people, especially those living with HIV-positive individuals, on the importance of early detection of the disease in order to facilitate earlier treatment also”, the IPHO official added.

Another good practice in the province is that, some of those detected HIV-positive individuals have come out in the open and become advocates of STI/HIV-AIDS prevention drive launched by IPHO-South Cotabato.

“As the IPHO continues in its detection drive or case finding phase for STI/HIV positive, it is expected that the number of recorded cases in the province will increase”, Dr. Aturdido further said.

Dr. Francisco Mateo, OIC-Assistant Director of DOH XII, has affirmed the increasing detection rate for STI/HIV positive in the entire region, although he was not able to provide the figure for the total number of recorded cases in the region due to incompleteness of data from other provinces and cities.

“It is true that more individuals are now subjecting themselves to free HIV-AIDS test being offered by the Department of Health and more HIV-positive individuals are coming out in the open and serving as advocates for HIV-AIDS awareness and prevention drive being pursued by the Department”, Dr. Mateo shared.

According to Dr. Aturdido, to facilitate faster detection and earlier prevention of the infections, particularly HIV, to become full-blown AIDS, the IPHO needs financial and other logistics support specifically, for the establishment of a Treatment Hub, preferably with a separate building, in order to address the confidentiality issue of the matter.

“Additional manpower complement is also needed to facilitate better service delivery to patients”, the IPHO official further added.

Considering that preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases is one of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that our country hoped to achieve by 2015, thus, the RSDC XII raised the concerns of IPHO-South Cotabato to the National SDC, for support of DOH Central Office, the Department of Budget and Management and other concerned agencies at the national level.

The National SDC is one of the committees of the NEDA Board which meets semi-annually to deliberate and/or address social development issues that need support or action by the national line agencies. (Eden F. Ridao/DRD-NEDA12)