Darwin Baboon, HIV counselor from DOH-CAR presented the HIV situation in Abra and Cordillera during the provincial consultative meeting on infectious diseases on February 28, 2019, participated by health personnel, nurses and doctors from different municipalities.

There are recorded 56 HIV cases in Abra out of 474 cases entire Cordillera from 1984-2019. He said most common HIV cases are acquired through men having sex with men.

He said awareness and early detection are important to combat with HIV with the help of the local government, health personnel, and stakeholders.

HIV-AIDS provincial program coordinator Lilibeth Martin said the Provincial Health Office provides free HIV testing and patients are treated with confidentiality.

She said people who get early treatment can live with the disease for a long time. There is no cure, but there are medicines that fight HIV infection and lower the risk of infecting others.

HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. It harms the immune system by destroying the white blood cells that fight infection. AIDS stands for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. It is the final stage of infection with HIV. Not everyone with HIV develops AIDS.

HIV most often spreads through unprotected sex with an infected person. It may also spread by sharing drug needles or through contact with the blood of an infected person. Women can give it to their babies during pregnancy or childbirth.

The first signs of HIV infection may be swollen glands and flu-like symptoms. These may come and go within two to four weeks. Severe symptoms may not appear until months or years later.

Strategies to reduce the risk of HIV infection include not having sex, limiting the number of sexual partners, never sharing needles, and using condoms.