(File photo)

The Pilipinas Shell Foundation, Inc. (PSFI) vowed Thursday to remain in the fight against the human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) in the city and the whole province.

PSFI Palawan program manager Marvi Trudeau said they will never leave Puerto Princesa City and Palawan in the fight to resolve the dilemma against the virus that attacks cells in the immune system and the syndrome it causes.

In a recent Local HIV/AIDS Council meeting, she attended, Trudeau said they are willing to assist the City Health Office (CHO) the best way they can.

“We will never ever leave Puerto Princesa in this situation. We are going to be a helping hand to it as we have always been. We will continue to support the program in Puerto Princesa,” said Trudeau.

She also said their focus is not only about helping the city but also supporting the whole province, knowing that cases are also recorded from the municipalities.

“We will always be there to support Puerto [Princesa City]. Pero we always want to target the ones that are in the municipalities. We will be starting na, we will be targeting areas in the municipalities. I think it is wrong to say that only Puerto Princesa has a problem. I think Palawan is there and since it is already here, we should never ignore it. We should never be complacent and do nothing, because if we do nothing then obviously it will balloon,” said Trudeau.

Regina Villapa, the STI/HIV/AIDS (sexually transmitted infection/human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immune deficiency syndrome) program coordinator of CHO, told Palawan News in the same meeting that there is a total of 168 HIV positive cases in the city at the present.

The cases were recorded as of February this year.

Villapa said while she cannot give the exact percentage of the “upward movement” of the cases, the trend has been increasing from the past years.

“Isang malaking factor [ng pagtaas ng cases ay] stigma and discrimination. ‘Yong key population takot silang lumabas [para magpa-test and magpa-gamot] kasi mai-i-stigmatize sila, even among the families,” said Villapa.

Tessie C. Tejada, a nurse of the Ospital ng Palawan’s (ONP) Treatment Hub or Red Top Center, said they are currently treating the city’s 168 HIV positive individuals with at least P150,000 budget each.

Tejada noted they are outpatients and are being given free medication.

Based on their data, one death has already been recorded from the 250 present cases Palawan has. It was recorded within the first quarter of 2019.

Records also revealed that “out of the 250 present HIV positive cases in the province, eight are 14 years old and below; 84 individuals within the age bracket of 15 to 24; 125 individuals are 25 to 34; 31 are within 35 to 49 years of age, and the two cases belong to 50 years old and above.”