Young Ilonggos raced to increase HIV-AIDS awareness

October 23, 2015 6:03 am 

By Sammy F. Martin

MANILA, Oct. 22 (PNA) — Alarmed by the Department of Health (DOH) record showing that Iloilo City has the most number of cases of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) cases in Western Visayas, the Philippine Legislators Committee on Population and Development (PLCPD) with support from UNICEF Philippines organized a fun run to increase awareness on how to avoid contracting the deadly virus.

The fun run dubbed as “ALL IN: Leave No One Behind in the Race to End AIDS” was held in Iloilo recently.

Inspired by the popular reality show the Amazing Race, 70 young people from seven different local government units across the province divided into seven (7) teams faced a series of challenges at different booths run by the Department of Health, Commission on Population, Family Planning Organization of the Philippines at the site. Each booth provided key information on HIV and AIDS.

The event was witnessed by hundreds of constituents within Iloilo. The HIV/AIDS and ART Registry of the Philippines (HARP) data showed that from January to July this year, about 28 percent of the 4,611 new HIV cases documented were young people aged 15 to 24.

In Western Visayas, a total of 807 cases were reported from 1984 to February 2015, 220 of which are from Iloilo City.

PLCPD Vice-Chairperson in the Visayas Rep. Sharon Garin said the fun race is a good way to make the HIV and AIDS education known among fellow Ilonggos especially the young key affected populations as statistics and charts might not appeal much to the youth.

A concurrent action is being taken by Rep. Garin and the PCLPD in Congress as they push to amend Republic Act 8504 or the National AIDS Prevention and Control Act of 1998 which prohibits HIV testing among minors without written parental consent.

Once the proposed amendment becomes a law, people aged 15 to below 18 no longer need to ask their parents for written parental consent before they can avail of the voluntary HIV counseling and testing services.

The amendment in the 17-year old AIDS law was approved on third reading in the House of Representatives in December 2014, but Senate has yet to pass its own version.

As of July 2015, 27,138 HIV cases were recorded in the country. HIV if left unmitigated can progress into AIDS in which white blood cells are destroyed resulting in loss of body’s ability to fight off diseases.

HIV is transmitted through unprotected sexual intercourse, transfusion of infected blood, and from mother-to-child. Early detection of HIV could lead to proper interventions including treatment or counseling, which could prevent the virus from spreading and / or developing into AIDS. (PNA)

CTB/SFM

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