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Science and Environment

Increase in HIV infections, poisoning cases revealed

- Rudy A. Fernandez -

DILIMAN, Quezon City, Philippines – An 800-percent increase in HIV infections. A steady rise in the number of poisoning cases. A 17-percent reduction in the number of Filipinos suffering from worm infections.

These are among the good and bad news in the Philippine health landscape that surfaced in a recent forum billed “Health UP-date Manila.”

Organized by the University of the Philippines Manila Information, Publication, and Public Affairs Office (UPM IPPAO), the forum aimed to bring relevant medical and public health news and information to the public.

Highlights of the report were published by the UP Newsletter, the community newspaper of the country’s premier state university.

UP Manila is one of the seven constituent (autonomous) campuses of the UP System. The others are UP Diliman, UP Los Baños, UP Open University (also based in Los Baños), UP Visayas, UP Mindanao, and UP Baguio.

“Classified as a low-prevalence country in HIV/AIDS (Human Immuno Virus-Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) cases until early 2000, the Philippines is now one of seven countries in the world to have seen a significant increase in cases in the last eight years, with HIV infections up by more than 800 percent,” the UP Newsletter reported.

The other countries are Armenia, Bangladesh, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyztan and Tajikistan.

The publication quoted Dr. Edsel Maurice Salvana of the UP National Institute of Health as having said that the Department of Health (DOH) attributed the increase to the growing number of cases of males having sex with other males and sex workers, and of drug users using needles.

While only more than 7,000 cases have been reported since 1984, more than half of these were diagnosed only in the past four years. The 204 new cases reported by the DOH last July is the highest ever, with seven cases a day. These brought the number to 7,235.

“Of this, 884 progressed into AIDS,” the UP Newsletter’s CM Villamor reported. “This number contrasts with one new case every three days in 2000.”

Of the 7,235 cases, 1,220 were registered in 2011 alone. A total of 327 have died of the ailment since HIV/AIDS surveillance began in the country in 1984.

Salvana advised people engaged in high-risk sex behavior to undergo testing which costs only P285 at the Philippine General Hospital (PGH).

On poisoning, Dr. Lynn Panganiban, consultant at the UPM-PGH National Poison Management and Control Center (NPMCC), said that in 2010 alone, poisoning cases at PGH reached 3,332, or an average of 10 cases a day.

Of these cases, 20 percent ingested silver jewelry cleaner; 20 percent, sodium hypochlorite; 12 percent, kerosene; and 11 percent, paracetamol.

Suicide cases through poisoning, especially among teenagers and usually during December to February, are increasing, Panganiban also noted.

Dr. Juan Antonio Solon, professor of parasitology at the UPM College of Public Health (CPH), also reported that there has been 17 percent reduction in the number of Filipinos suffering from worm infections.

This decrease can be attributed to control programs of the DOH and CPH, which include giving deworming drugs to preschoolers and school children twice a year. The DOH hopes to deworm 85 percent of Filipino children.

Worm-related infections can lead to children’s poor performance in school, poor physical fitness, and poor growth, Solon pointed out.

He explained that three kinds of soil-transmitted helminthes preying on children are endemic in the country, based on a CPH survey. These are ascaris, hookworms, and trichuris (the most frequently encountered, which was found in more than half of the population in six out of 39 provinces surveyed).

vuukle comment

CASES

COLLEGE OF PUBLIC HEALTH

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH

DR. EDSEL MAURICE SALVANA

DR. JUAN ANTONIO SOLON

DR. LYNN PANGANIBAN

HUMAN IMMUNO VIRUS-ACQUIRED IMMUNE DEFICIENCY SYNDROME

KYRGYZTAN AND TAJIKISTAN

LOS BA

NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF HEALTH

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