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‘HEALTH’ Archives



EASING MALNUTRITION IN AMBALGAN
Read 281 times | Posted on November 18, 2011 @ 6 years ago


Not only in slum areas but also in this remote village of Ambalgan; malnutrition has taken its toll. Lack of food at home has affected children’s attendance and performance in school. Ambalgan Elementary School’s record revealed thatabout 10% of its 706 students are considered wasted and severely wasted in nutritional status.

Ambalgan’s families are mostly tenants and laborers, while others are subsistent farmers. Children survive on whatever meager income both parents could harness to support family needs including education for the kids.

Jay Saliling, Grade IV, is one of the farmers kid in Ambalgan who continues to go to school despite their difficult situation. He was among the students who survived schooling without dropping out. It was learned that out of the 46 students enrolled in June, only 41 students were left by September, his teacher disclosed.

Thank you is not enough, says Jay Sinaliling as he spoke recently before donors of a supplemental feeding project at Ambalgan Elemetary School in Sto. Nino, South Cotabato. “Forever we are grateful for the food you shared to us here in Ambalgan. We may not have material things to give in exchange for your kindness, but wish namin good health and blessings so you can also help other children like us,” Jay stressed.

Jay is one of the 76 malnourished children of Ambalgan Elementary School who are beneficiaries of a 4-month school-based supplemental feeding project. Through the Balik-Baterya Program, funds derived from the sale of used and recycled batteries were used to finance the project.

Netle’ Philippines in partnership with Nestle’s Truckers also supports a remedial reading program for school children at Teresita Elementary School, all in South South Cotabato Province. The said program is being implemented by the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP) and local partners in the area. (danny escabarte)



SnL: A safer, faster and more effective way to lose weight
Read 306 times | Posted on November 16, 2011 @ 6 years ago

Being overweight often leads to other health ailments and complications. Poor diet, lack of exercise and stress contribute weight gain. If left unchecked, carrying excess weight and obesity can easily cause more dangerous health problems like hypertension, diabetes, gout, heart problems, sleep disorders etc.

Today’s fast-paced lifestyle often leaves very little or no time at all for exercise and diet planning. This is why most people resort to alternative ways to lose weight. One simple way apart from physical exercise to lose excess poundage would be through supplements such as ephedra, stimulants and appetite suppressants which are often poses other more dangerous health risks.
There are safe alternatives however like l-carnitine that primarily helps speeds up the conversion of stored fat cells into energy to be used by the body. Apart from body fat to energy conversion however L-carnitine fails to address other variables to be an effective weight loss aid like curbing hunger and cravings.

SnL is a breakthrough weight-loss product to combine the natural fat burning qualities of l-carnitine with hoodia gordonii. Hoodia Gordonii is a leafless succulent plant found in South Africa and Namibia. Local bushmen have for years used it as an appetite suppressant during long hunting trips. Its active ingredient, P57 is credited with the appetite suppressing effect of hoodia gordonii.

Combined with l-carnitine, SnL makes full use of the appetite and hunger suppressing qualities of hoodia gordonii. Each capsule of SnL contains and equivalent of 20 kilos of raw unprocessed hoodia gordonii. Coupled with the fat burning l-carnitine and hoodia gordonii, losing weight through supplementation is made easier and faster by SnL.
Apart from weight loss with the l-carnitine and hoodia blend, what also sets SnL apart from other weight loss products is that it is also formulated with green tea extract and glutaNAC for anti-oxidant and glutathione boosting effect. This makes SnL a very potent weight loss aid and anti-oxidizing supplement.

SnL Dietary Supplement is available for Php 2,200.00 in Mercury Drug and other leading drug stores nationwide.

For inquiries, comments and suggestions call 0917-8014352, 09179359436 or log on to www.yumeimise.net.



RECLAIMING INTIMACY AFTER A HEART ATTACK
Read 258 times | Posted on November 14, 2011 @ 6 years ago

By Henrylito D. Tacio

Forty-five-year-old Paul was having fun in a party organized by his
friend in Lanang, a few kilometers away from the Davao International
Airport. Due to the request of one of the visitors, he sang his
favorite song, “My Way.” At 10 p.m., he bade goodbye and drove all
the way to his home at Matina.

Since it was hot, he took a shower. When he came out from the
bathroom, he suffered from a heart attack. His wife saw him and took
him to the bed. She called the emergency hotline and was immediately
brought to the hospital.

“A heart attack occurs when part of the heart’s blood supply is
suddenly reduced or cut off, usually due to a blockage in one of the
coronary arteries supplying blood to the heart,” explains Dr. Julian
Whitaker, author of Reversing Heart Disease. “The portions of the
heart muscle that cannot get adequate oxygen and nutrients die. The
more extensive the damage, the more serious the heart attack.”

Fortunately for Paul, he survived the ordeal. After a month or so, he
was already back to his work. Everything seems to be normal, but he
has a problem. “Is it still possible to resume sex after a heart
attack?” he wondered.

Paul is not alone in his dilemma. “Coronary artery disease, which
includes heart attacks, is becoming more common in Davao City,”
explains Dr. Bernard Chiew, an expert on internal medicine and adult
cardiology at the Davao Doctors Hospital. “This is due to the fact
that more people are living an unhealthy lifestyle.”

Unhealthy lifestyle include smoking, drinking heavily, lack of
exercise, too much stress from work, unhealthy eating (binge on lechon
and salt-laden dishes), and not getting enough sleep.

“Everyday, about 5 to 10 patients get admitted (in the hospital where
I am working) for symptoms related to coronary artery disease,” Dr.
Chiew discloses. “About one or two would have actual heart attacks.”

With regards to sex, Dr. Chiew that is permissible after a heart
attack. “On the average and in the absence of complications, it
should be safe to resume sex after about a month,” he says.

“Fear is one of the greatest barriers to healthy and pleasurable sex
after a heart attack, often more of a barrier than the physical
changes related to heart disease,” says the US Heart Health Center.
“Being fearful of sex after a heart attack is usually a response to
being ignorant of how sex works, how your heart works, and what the
true risks are.”

More often than not, a husband or wife worries having sexual activity
and intimacy as it may trigger a second heart attack for the partner.
Others think the patient may die in the bedroom while performing the
act. While such fears are common, there are those that afraid of
traumatizing their partner if they die during sex.

A heart attack gives a new perspective to sexually active individuals.
“A person’s life is essentially thrown upside-down (after a heart
attack),” says Dr. Randal Thomas, a preventive cardiologist and
director of the Cardiovascular Health Clinic at the Mayo Clinic. They
see their frailty and how close they came to dying, and it can lead to
a lot of psychological issues and need for recuperation.”

But the chance of another heart attack during sex is a myth. In fact,
the chance “is so low that it’s not worth worrying about,” says Dr.
James E. Muller, a researcher who published a 2000 study, ‘Triggering
of Cardiac Events by Sexual Activity,’ in the American Journal of
Cardiology. “The absolute risk is very low and should not be a
consideration for those with stable coronary disease,” he points out.

Of course, it’s normal for patients to have sex less frequently in the
weeks and months after a heart attack. A patient has “no choice but
to abstain (from any sexual activity), by virtue of the fact that he
or she is still recovering from the illness,” Dr. Helen Ong-Garcia, a
cardiologist at the St. Luke’s Medical Center, was quoted as saying in
an article which appeared in Health and Lifestyle.

Remember the movie, As Good As Its Gets, where Jack Nicholson
attempted to climb a flight of steps gong up to the lifeguard post
along the beach? “One simple gauge is if a patient can walk two
flights of stairs without any symptoms of chest pain, it should be
safe to resume sex,” Dr. Chiew points out.

One flight of stairs is equivalent to what medical practitioners call
5 mets (metabolic equivalent). It’s been estimated that a person will
expend 5 mets while making love to his wife. It goes up to 10 mets if
a man will have sex with someone other than his wife.

“The stress or excitement of having an unfamiliar partner in
unfamiliar territory is equivalent to an hour of heavy cycling or
rowing,” says Dr. Willie T. Ong, a cardiologist at the Manila Doctors
Hospital and Makati Medical Center. This explains why some people
unceremoniously die in motels while “in action.”

When the couple is ready to resume any sexual activity, they should
not do it hastily but gradually and without fear. “Think of sex as a
particularly enjoyable workout,” suggests Dr. Wayne Sotile, author of
Thriving with Heart Disease.

“One of the questions that some of my patients have asked me is, ‘Does
sex kill?’” reveals Dr. Edgardo E. Eba, consultant of the Cardiac
Rehabilitation at the Philippine Heart Center. “Then I tell them, ‘No
one dies (by engaging in sexual activity). Just don’t go into any
sexual activity without preparing yourself.”

So, before resuming sexual act, a patient should get a medical
clearance from his doctor. “A doctor should always be consulted with
regards to activities after a heart attack,” Dr. Chiew reminds. “The
kind of activity that can be allowed is always individualized and the
physician can help the patient out in this regard.”

The American Heart Association says a doctor might prohibit sex in the
following instances: (1) a few days after a heart attack, (2)
bothersome chest pains, and (3) shortness of breath.

“The reason is that during orgasm, the heart rate dramatically
increases from 80 beats to 115-145 beats per minute,” Dr. Ong
explains. “The blood pressure also jumps by 40 millimeters of mercury,
so a systolic blood pressure of 130 can reach 170 during climax.”

A person who suffered a heart attack must do the lesser work while
having sex. “Let the healthy partner do the work,” Dr. Ong
recommends. “For more serious cases, the heart patient may preferably
lie on his or her back and let the healthier spouse stay on top. It’s
hard to imagine a post-heart attack patient performing acrobatic
maneuvers in bed.”

As much as possible, the healthy partner should not expect the same
kind of pleasure she has experienced before. Foreplay is very
important, according to Dr. Eba. “Foreplay is like a warm-up exercise
before doing a sport activity,” he explains. “Kissing and cuddling
may be done before going directly to the sexual act. In this way, the
surge of the blood pressure will not be sudden and the heart rate is
increased gradually.”

The sex act should be scheduled in the early morning. “Patients
usually feel stronger and healthier in the morning as compared to the
wearisome hours of the evening,” says Dr. Ong. “Older patients
usually feel weaker and more tired as the day goes by. So a ‘morning
special’ may be a good idea.”

Eating is strictly prohibited before a sexual act. Experts recommend
waiting from one to three hours after eating a meal to allow for
digestion. “When we eat, our blood goes to the stomach to help digest
food,” says Dr. Eba. “If you are full, your heart will have a hard
time, because it will compete with your stomach as regards to oxygen
use.”

If eating before sex is high discouraged, so is drinking. “Although
some patients would like to take alcohol to relieve apprehensions, it
must be remembered that alcohol is a depressant and performance may be
affected,” Dr. Eba reminds.

Don’t disregard your medications. “Heart patients usually take
several pills like nitroglycerine to dilate the arteries of the heart,
and other pills for high blood pressure, diabetes or cholesterol
problems,” says Dr. Ong. “Just continue taking your medications a few
hours before lovemaking as we want you to be strong and protected. Of
course those with chest pains should have their pills handy just in
case they feel something.
Be prepared. Have all your pills, patches, gadgets and a glass of
water ready to go.”

There are warning signs that you need to be aware of. If you have
chest pain, extreme shortness of breath, or an irregular heartbeat
during sex, stop and rest. If the problem doesn’t go away, go to the
hospital right away. “With any kind of physical activity, you’ll
breathe harder and your heart will beat faster,” says Dr. Thomas. “If
it’s more than the usual type of shortness of breath or more than a
moderate increase in heart rate, that would be a sign to stop and to
potentially seek medical attention.”

Lastly, there is the issue of erectile dysfunction. Those with the
desire but can’t perform the deed. Although erection-enhancing
medications are not highly recommended, its intake remains safe, as
long at it is not taken at the same time with nitroglycerin, which
many heart patients take to relieve angina, or chest pain.

The US Food and Drug Authority warns that the combination can send
blood pressure plummeting to unsafe levels and cause dizziness,
fainting, heart attack or stroke. “There have been some reports of
death,” says Dr. Thomas. “Anybody who’s had a heart attack or heart
surgery should definitely be cleared through their doctor before they
think of using any of the medications for sexual dysfunction.”

Many heart attack survivors told Dr. Sotile that they’ve become more
“caring, loving and patient” after their heart attacks. “If you take
that same set of attitudes into the bedroom, your sex life can be
better than it was,” the author physician wrote. –



Don’t let Diabetes take over. Fight back with 9 powerful herbs
Read 814 times | Posted on September 28, 2011 @ 6 years ago

The burden of diabetes is increasing all over the world, particularly in the Philippines. And although it is not an infectious disease, it seems to be spreading like one. The causes are complex, but are in large part due to obesity, lack of physical activity and weight gain.

Studies show that a large proportion of cases of diabetes and its complications can be prevented with proper nutrition, exercise and conventional medical treatments. Conventional medical treatments, however, tend to focus on treating or controlling symptoms and since these methods do not usually strengthen the person’s own defenses, the individual remains prone to recurrence of their problem. Are diabetics focusing too much on the short –term effects? What about the need to increase the person’s own inherent defenses? This is where the role of Ayurvedic medicine comes in. The use of traditional herbal remedies for the treatment of Diabetes has existed in India for more than 5,000 years. Indian Pharmacopoeia continues to be used by millions of people worldwide with the intent of maintaining health, as well as to prevent, diagnose, improve or treat physical and mental illnesses.

Diabetic sufferers around the world are reaping the benefits of Ayurvedic medicine through an herbal supplement especially made for diabetic care. Studies have shown that Cogent Db+ helps control diabetes and prevents long-term complications through its anti-diabetic, anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. The herbs Azadirachta Indica, Trigonella foenum-graecum, Curcuma longa, Phyllanthus emblica, Terminalia chebula, Terminalia bellerica, Syzygium cumini, Tribulus terrestris and Rotula aquatica are all recognized and institutionalized to help minimize complications and maximize quality of life for diabetics.

A study was conducted by the Journal of Alternative and Complementary medicine to 60 people with type 2 diabetes between the ages of 30 and 70. They were divided into two groups. One group took conventional blood sugar-lowering medications plus 6 tablets a day of Cogent db+ for three months, while the other group only took conventional medications. After three months of treatment, those taking Cogent db+ had significantly lower fasting blood sugar and post-meal blood sugar and insulin levels than those taking conventional medications only. Total cholesterol, triglycerides, and long-term blood sugar markers were also improved in this group. Overall the severity of the diabetes had improved substantially and participants reported feeling better.

Living with Diabetes means taking part in certain daily rituals to keep symptoms at bay. Proper management of these daily rituals will certainly help pave the way for a better life through the use of Ayurvedic medicine along with a prescribed medication and a healthy lifestyle.

The nine herbs found in Cogent db+ have been tried and tested since it first came into the market over eight years ago and since then has become a staple for diabetics around the country. This is promising news for millions of Filipino diabetics who are still looking for a way to better manage their condition.



THERE’S BIG OPPORTUNITY IN HALAL FOODS
Read 531 times | Posted on August 26, 2011 @ 6 years ago

By Henrylito D. Tacio

There’s money in halal foods. And the Philippines has yet to cash in
on the potential export market niche. But some issues and concerns
have to addressed first before the country can join multi-million
industry offered by the halal food market.

This came out in a survey conducted by N.D. Naanep and co-researchers
from the Sultan Kudarat State University in Tacurong City . They took
a closer look at halal goat products, particularly in Region 12.

Halal is an Arabic word which means “lawful, permitted, or
acceptable.” When used in referring to consumables, halal means those
products that Muslims are allowed to eat and drink or use in the
observance of their Islamic faith.

“Halal is a way of life,” explained Hadji Horon Ngilay Espadilla, a
goat raiser from General Santos City and a Muslim widower (her
deceased husband was an Imam). “It includes the feelings and
emotions, the sense of family and community, the outlook, values and
the godliness of the person.”

To Muslims, this clean living as empowered by the Qu’ran is parallel
to the teachings of Jesus Christ in the Christian Bible.

The survey was conducted in cooperation with the regional field unit
12 of the Department of Agriculture, Office of Muslims Affairs, and
the local governments units in various study sites. There were 253
respondents representing goat raisers, processors (halal restaurants),
and consumers.

The researchers wanted to gather benchmark information on
stakeholder’s levels of awareness on halal goat production and
processing; differences in the practices of raisers and processors,
and deviations from standard halal protocols. Consumers’ awareness
and opinions regarding locally available halal goat products were
likewise looked into.

The data were gathered from three cities (General Santos, Tacurong,
and Koronadal) and two municipalities (Kabacan, North Cotabato and
Maasim, Sarangani). A combination of structured questionnaires
followed by personal interviews or discussion with the respondents was
used.

The survey found out that respondents’ age and education influenced
their awareness of halal goat production, while these factors did not
affect their knowledge of halal goat processing practices.

It was also determined that smallhold farmers do not consistently
observe goat production practices based on their “do not practice
them” and “practice them sometimes” responses. Butchers level of
halal goat processing practices likewise varied from “practice
sometimes” to “practice often.”

Production practices focused more on the technical aspects of raising
the animals, while butchering (which also included pre-butchering) and
processing practices focused more on religious-related considerations.

“The development of a halal food industry will not only cater to the
needs of Muslim consumers, it will also lead to the development of
related agri-based products and allied industries which will provide
alternative sources of livelihood among Filipinos, Muslims, and
non-Muslims alike,” the study concluded.

But the Philippines has still a long, long way to go if it has to tap
the multi-million dollar industry of halal foods.

For one, there is still much to learn about how halal foods are
prepared. “Halal is not just how food is processed, handled, and
sanctified or cleansed by a prayer during the sumbali (religious rite)
performed by an Imam; it embodies a wide garment of pre-requisites
from how the crop or animal was raised, how clean (externally and
spiritually) the producer was, how the product was handled during
processing, and how ‘halal’ the ingredients and supplements were,”
wrote Dr. Edwin C. Villar in an article which appeared in The PCARRD
Monitor.

Unlike in other Asian countries, the Philippines still has no standard
protocol or husbandry or raising halal goat. “At the moment, goats
raised by Muslim farmers are classified as halal and acceptable to
local consumers in the area,” said Dr. Villar, who is the head of the
livestock division of the Laguna-based Philippine Council for
Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development
(PCARRD).

“By word of mouth, the reputation of the producer of halal goat is
disseminated in the locality and they become the source of acceptable
halal goat,” Dr. Villar added.

However, it does not necessarily follow that these people – who are
considered to be producers of halal goat – can easily market their
products outside of their area. “Some customers outside the locality
still question the authenticity or ‘halal-ness’ of their products,”
Dr. Villar pointed out.

Even Muslim consumers and raisers themselves don’t have a standard or
uniform set of yardstick upon which to measure set how halal is the
goat products. As for non-Muslims, they sell live goats branded as
halal after an Imam has performed the sumbali and the animals slitted
with a dedicated knife or dagger to properly bleed the animal clean.

“There are several practices prescribed in the Qu’ran and in the
Philippine National Standard on Halal Food that has to be complied
with, otherwise the product is recognized as ‘harm’ or unacceptable by
the Muslims,” Dr. Villar said.

Indeed, the Philippines has to come up with its own protocol and
standards at par with the international market. “Gauging from the
potentials for halal foods in the international scene, goat can be a
convenient start for a big opportunity for our farmers, particularly
those in Region 12,” Dr. Villar concluded.



Seafarers to tackle on HIV/AIDS in 1st Int’l convention
Read 464 times | Posted on August 15, 2011 @ 6 years ago

THE Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) are among the major problems plaguing Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) including seamen today.

A recent report by the Department of Health said 178 cases have been recorded for the month of June this year – a 63 percent increase considered to be the highest for 2011. Only 109 cases were reported in the same month of last year.

Of the 178 cases, 22 were found to be from OFWs with 18 of them males and most of them seamen or sea-based personnel.

All of these 22 OFW cases were acquired through heterosexual intercourse with 10, bisexual contact with seven, and homosexual intimacy with five. Given the new cases reported, there are now 1,016 Filipino HIV victims and 18 full-blown AIDS cases in the first five months of 2011.

Because of this concern, HIV/AIDS has been listed among the priority topics to be tackled on in the 1st International Seafarers Family Convention and Exhibit on August 4-5 at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City.

Dr. Asif Altaf, AIDS advisor of the ITF Seafarers Trust in the United Kingdom, has been invited to speak on the subject during the two-day convention aimed at strengthening the ties among seafarers’ families and heralding the contribution of the maritime industry to the Philippine economy with the theme: “The Bonds of Families, the Success of the World.”

“Families have many ways of coping with the absence of their seafarer parents and kids,” chief organizer Marissa F. Oca said. “And through the years, many issues have cropped up in relation to this. But we should all be aware that not only the family, but also the government, ship owners, employers, NGOs, and many others have a stake in keeping the families of seafarers together.”

Other activities lined up in the convention include sessions on Empowering Women by Carla Limcaoco of Women in Maritime Philippines and Maritime Piracy (A Humanitarian Response Program) by Roy Paul also of ITF Seafarers Trust.

Also tapped as resource speakers in the convention are Sen. Pia Cayetano on “Youth and Freedom,” former Department of Transportation and Communication secretary Arturo Valdez on “Life is an Expedition” and Neuro-Psychiatric Section chief Dr. Romel T. Papa of the National Bureau of Investigation on “Coping Styles to Loneliness and Separation.”

Meanwhile, over 100 companies, associations, organizations, manning agencies, shipping lines, housing and real estate, banking and finance sector, health, car companies, appliances, and maritime schools will be exhibiting their services and products to the seafaring families in the convention. The exhibition is open to all non-convention participants and to the public.

Slated to exhibit their products and services include Associated Marine Officers & Seamen’s Union of the Philippines (AMOSUP), Core 8 Int’l Marketing Corp., Craft Struck, Enclavesmart Community Solutions Management Inc., Federal Land Inc., Geo Estate Dev’t Corp., Gig & the Amazing Sampaguita Foundation Inc., Green World, Haier, Infostrada Inc., Independent Financial & Risk Consultancy, Int’l Committee on Seafarers Welfare (ICSW), Int’l Seafarer Assistance Network, Int’l Transport Federation, and Maritime Academy of Asia & the Pacific (MAAP).

Sponsors of the event managed by Philippine Exhibits and Themeparks Corporation (PETCO) are Smart Link, AMOSUP, ICSW, ITF Seafarers Trust, Magsaysay Group of Companies, Medicard, Philippine Transmarine Carrier, MAAP, Real Bank, Union Bank, Haier, GMA 7, OSM Maritime Services, and Enclavesmart.

Registration fee for the two-day convention is pegged at only P2,000 per person, which includes two lunch buffet, four snacks (all food catered by Via Mare), certificate of participation, farewell concert, raffle draws, games, and conference kit.

Interested parties may contact the International Seafarers Family Convention (ISFC) secretariat at (02) 832 5422, (02) 832 5401, and (02) 832 9303, or email at [email protected]



WHO SAYS AIDS DOESN’T MATTER?
Read 1 times | Posted on August 15, 2011 @ 6 years ago

By Henrylito D. Tacio

(The author is a recipient of the Journalist of the Year from the Rotary Club of Manila in 19999. Also in the same year, he was elevated to the Hall of Fame in science reporting by the Philippine Press Institute. He is the only journalist from Mindanao who writes for the Reader’s Digest. He was a fellow of the Washington,D.C.-based Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars.)

John grew up in the province and didn’t know if he should come out in the open. But knowing that his parents are very conservative, he decided to keep his being gay (a euphemism for homosexual) a secret. For how long, he never knew.

After graduating from high school, he told his parents he wanted to go to Davao City to pursue his dream – to become an engineer. His parents didn’t object his plan; in fact, they supported him.

He was already in his junior years in college when he met Mike, who worked in a call center. Like him, Mike is a closet. To make the long story short, they became lovers. He moved to Mike’s apartment to be with him. Unknowingly, Mike had several lovers before.

Months after moving in, John observed that Mike was getting sickly. He pointed this out but Mike said that he was stressed out from his work. Mike took some medicines but as days passed by, he was not improving.

John decided to bring Mike to a hospital. At first, Mike protested but John convinced him that it was for his good. So, they went together. At the hospital, the doctor conducted some tests.

The doctor didn’t find something wrong with the patient. But when he learned that Mike was a bisexual and that he had many sexual conquests before, the doctor tried to confirm from the laboratory what he had been suspecting.

True enough, laboratory findings showed that Mike had human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the microorganism that causes the dreaded AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome).

This was in 2010, they year when Davao City ranked second with the most number of HIV cases in the country. Cebu City was first while Manila was a distant third, according to Connie Actub, care and support services head of Alagad Mindanao.

Data from the City Health Office of the Department of Health (DOH) at that time showed 82 HIV cases in Davao City. Of the number, 16 died in which three were females and 16 were males. Out of the 66 remaining live HIV-infected persons in the city, 17 were females and 59 were males. “Most of those infected are males who have engaged into anal sex with similar gender,” Actub said.

For two decades, beginning 1984, HIV was mostly seen among female sex workers until the ‘shift’ began in 2007. “It was a complete flip wherein we saw more males having sex with males driving the HIV epidemic in the country,” said DOH Assistant Secretary Enrique Tayag.

According to Dr. Tayag, most of the currently reported cases were males (92 percent). And in a focused discussion with a group of MSM, that sixty percent admitted they feel they are at risk of having HIV, but only 0.05 percent had an HIV test.

Four to five new HIV cases are recorded every day, the National Epidemiology Center (NEC) reported. With such prevalence, NEC predicts a five-fold increase of HIV cases in the country – from 10,000 in 2009 to 45,000 by 2015.

AIDS is a disease caused by a deficiency in the body’s immune system. “It is a syndrome because there are a range of different symptoms which are not always found in each case,” explains Dr. John Hubley, author of The AIDS Handbook. “It is acquired because AIDS is an infectious disease caused by a virus which is spread from person to person through a variety of routes. This makes it different from immune deficiency from other causes such as treatment with anti-cancer drugs or immune system suppressing drugs given to persons receiving transplant operations.”

The origin of HIV viruses and AIDS is still a mystery until now. There have been many theories but none so far have been proven. During the early stages of the AIDS epidemic, the flimsiest evidence was used to blame AIDS on certain groups, countries, or animals. Kenneth Kaunda, former president of Zambia, urged: “It is not important to know where it came from but rather where it is going!”

HIV is present in all body fluids of an infected person but is concentrated in blood, semen and vaginal fluids. Virtually, it is present in all body tissues and organs including the brain and spinal cord. It can be found in tears, saliva and breast milk although these last three are not considered significant routes of infection.

“A single sexual encounter can be sufficient to transmit HIV,” Dr. Hubley wrote. “Although the risk from an individual sexual act may be low, the more times a person has sex, the greater the likelihood that transmission will take place. Women appear to be more at risk than men from heterosexual sex. The transmission of HIV from man to woman is believed to take place more easily than from woman to man.”

Fortunately, you can’t get HIV/AIDS from kissing. “A protein saliva in human saliva keeps HIV from infecting white blood cells,” informs The Merck Manual of Medical Information. “The protein attaches itself to white blood cells and protects them from infection.”

And if ever you get HIV through kissing, you need to imbibe 32 liters of an infected person’s saliva, according to Health Action Information Network (HAIN). “That would be enough saliva to fill up the gasoline tank of six-by-six truck. And the transfer should happen in one kissing session!” HAIN said.

Medical experts say HIV is relatively fragile and can be easily killed by household disinfectants. But once it is inside the human body, there is no way a person can eliminate the dreaded virus.

“HIV progressively weakens the body’s immune defense system until it is no longer able to fight off infections, many of which are normally harmless,” said Dr. Dominic Garcia who, at the time when this author interviewed him, was the program officer of the AIDS Society of the Philippines. “When the immune system is severely damaged by HIV, several opportunistic infections are present at once.”

Opportunistic infections or indicator diseases affecting people with HIV include tuberculosis, Kaposi’s sarcoma (a tumor primarily affecting the skin), pneumonia, herpes, shingles and weight loss. Death is not caused directly by HIV, but by one or more infections.

How does HIV work? The AIDS Information Unit of the Department of Health (DOH) explains: “When HIV enters your body, your body tries to kill the virus by creating chemicals called antibodies. This process – from the moment you are infected until the moment antibodies appear in your blood – takes an average of six weeks but may take as long as one year.”

The DOH information sheet said HIV antibodies do not kill the AIDS virus. The antibodies and HIV remain in the bloodstream of a person until the rest of his or her life. Only a special blood test can detect whether a person is HIV-positive.

According to Dr. Garcia, HIV is a retrovirus or a slow virus. “Unlike flu, which already gives you the symptoms the following day after acquiring it, HIV can show no symptoms for several years,” he points out.

Dr. Jordana Ramiterre of the Davao CHO’s Reproductive Health and Wellness Center said symptoms of HIV would only be felt after five to six years upon infection. “This is why, people who are likely vulnerable to HIV like those who engaging sexes with multiple partners are, should take precautionary measures such as having medical check up to prevent HIV infection,” she added.

Unlike other infectious diseases, AIDS can be prevented by ABCDE. “It’s not just ABC but ABCD,” explains Dr. Ramiterre. “A means Abstinence from sex, Be faithful, Condom use, Do not use drugs, and Education.”

Despite all the educational campaigns about HIV/AIDS in the country, stigmas on people living with HIV are still high. For the homosexuals, the stigma is double because they are still hounded by the effects of gender problem. “The gender problem confronting them (homosexuals) is a factor of not accessing to medical services,” Alagad Mindanao’s Alma Mondragon deplored. –

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