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HIV no longer fatal – doc
If discovered and treated early
By FRANCIS T. WAKEFIELD
December 13, 2011, 4:05pm
MANILA, Philippines — A doctor at the University of the Philippines (UP) Manila National Institutes of Health on Tuesday said that early treatment of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) using anti-retrovirals has been shown to restore life expectancy and a decrease in relative risk of transmission by 96 percent.
Dr. Edsel Maurice Salvaña said that while there is no cure yet for HIV, it is no longer fatal because it can be managed, especially if treated at an early stage.
“(An individual) would not have died of HIV had the person who infected (the individual) was treated early,” Salvaña said during the recent Science Information Forum of Epidemiology of Population at Risk of HIV.
“An early treatment with anti-retrovirals has been shown to restore life expectancy and a decrease in relative risk of transmission by 96 percent,” he added.
He encouraged everyone to undergo HIV testing before it is too late. In the Philippine General Hospital, he said HIV test costs P285.
Salvaña also called on the government and the media to help increase people’s awareness on how to prevent exposure to the virus and how to avail of HIV tests for possible early treatment, if found positive to the virus.
He also describes the HIV status in the Philippines as “low and slow.”
Salvaña said that such a picture is due to several factors, such as “relative sexual conservatism” and “that 92.5 percent of the Filipino males are circumcised.”
The “low and slow” description may be comforting, still data on HIV incidence in the country in the last 10 years as stated in the UNAIDS 2010 report were still disturbing, he said.
The UNAIDS 2010 report said that new cases are up by more than 800 percent in the Philippines, with more than half of the total cases diagnosed in the last four years.
Meanwhile, Ma. Lourdes Orijola, assistant secretary of the Department of Science and Technology, called on the media to advocate among companies such as call centers to include in their corporate social responsibility the fight against HIV.
The forum was organized by DoST-National Academy of Science and Technology.