Pasay to encourage at-risk residents to undergo regular HIV-AIDS testsBy Maricar B. Brizuela |Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines — The Pasay City Health Office announced over the weekend that they have strengthened and would continue to reinforce awareness campaigns about the spread of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which could lead to the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome to convince more residents to undergo tests.
City health doctor Joan Carlota Ranieses made this assurance after Pasay was included by the Department of Health (DOH) among the six cities in the country most at risk for the spread of feared disease.
Ranieses said the local health sector has been having difficulty monitoring HIV-AIDS cases because “one is not required to take the test for it is voluntary.”
“What we do is help promote the awareness on HIV-AIDS so that we can encourage the public to do the test especially those who are at risk in line with their work,” Ranieses said, referring to sex workers.
She, however, noted that unlike the tests for HIV-AIDS cases, regular checkups and tests for other sexually transmitted infections (STI) have been regular.
Last week, Mayor Antonino Calixto stressed the need to amend the city’s AIDS Prevention and Control Ordinance “to strengthen the monitoring and implementation of the law.”
Calixto, alarmed by the DOH report, asked the city council to go over the ordinance and provide additional funding for its exertion and supervision.
“We need to act and do more to strengthen our anti-AIDS campaign,” Calixto said in a statement.
The AIDS Prevention and Control Ordinance strictly requires all entertainers and others with similar occupations to attend an awareness seminar on AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases before they are given a Mayor’s work license and an occupational health permit. It also obligates all entertainers to undergo an STI examination every two weeks at the city’s Social Hygiene Clinic.
The ordinance also requires operators of entertainment establishments “to develop a set of their own health care policies and to present original copies of the birth certificates of all their applicants for employment and other pertinent documents duly authenticated by the City Health Office.”
Calixto, however, noted that all these measures have not been enough to stop the spread of the killer disease. He stressed that education, information and communication would still be the best tools in the prevention and control of HIV-AIDS.
“It is very important that everybody understands HIV-AIDS and carry out measures to prevent its spread,” he said.
In line with this, Calixto called on media organizations to contribute to the concerted effort of fighting the scourge by “doing their share of educating the public.”
“The mass media and the social organizations should have the responsibility to join in educating the public on the prevention and fight against AIDS for everyone has the duty to carry out measures to prevent and fight the spread of the disease,” Calixto said.
He also assured the public that the local government has been “reaching out to the people at the grassroots level to educate them on prevention as well as in addressing the spread of the virus through information campaign and proper coordination with the concerned government and nongovernment organizations.”
Ranieses said that the city health sector has noted the August report of the AIDS Registry of the Philippines, which showed that nine out of 10 people have been getting infected per day.
“We are gearing up for the cases of men having sex with men (MSM) because according to the report 70 percent of AIDS-infected individuals are males. Every year, the increasing rate ranges from ages 17-25 and most of them are homosexual,” the city doctor said.
Last month, the DOH identified Manila, Pasay, Quezon City, Cebu, Davao and Angeles City as the cities most at risk for the spread of the dreaded disease. The DOH has also warned that HIV-AIDS cases have risen 300 percent over the past years especially among men having sex with other men.