As the world commemorated the World Aids Day yesterday, health authorities in the city pressed the panic button over the ballooning of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) cases in the region.
This paper reported last week that Dr. Jordana Ramittere, head of the Reproductive Health and Wellness Center, said the center recorded 3,857 HIV cases in the region during the first six months of the year.
Another alarming data, she pointed out, that of those cases, about of 85% them were recorded in the city, the center of commerce and industry in the region.
On average, she said, there were 38 people who were reported to have acquired the illness every month in the city, or higher by three if that figure was to be compared with the data during the same period last year.
Ramittere admitted that even when groups, both from the private sector and government, have been conducting programs to suppress the increase in HIV cases, “we are still experiencing a high rate of HIV cases.”
“It has been noticeably increasing and it’s a bit alarming that many people are still acquiring HIV illness,” she lamented even as she took note that more medical facilities have been established to help treat those afflicted by it.
But she noted that those who felt they acquired the illness were still “not that comfortable in approaching hospitals for testing because they might be ashamed, “ adding that this has prompted groups to setup community-based testing centers.
Of course, many of those who felt they were afflicted by the illness, and sometimes including their kin, did not want to get tested because the illness has continued to carry with it the stigma, even if groups like that of Ramiterre’s have intensified their information campaign.
So what must be done to arrest the spread of the illness? Both the government and the private sector must – just like in other campaigns – include the communities in the information campaign not only to curb the spread, but also to help the people understand the intricacies of the disease and make them abandon the myths and the discrimination.