Some 30 youth from San Vicente town recently volunteered to undergo screening for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and sexually transmitted infection (STI) to help raise awareness about the disease.
Mark Anthony Tabangay, ex-officio municipal councilor and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) Federation president of San Vicente, said Monday that the volunteerism displayed by the young people also aims to break the stigma in the society about people living with HIV (PLHIV).
“[Nagsagawa kami ng ganito] to encourage the youth to know their status. Mataas ang awareness. Generally, sa buong Asia ay Philippines ang mataas ang cases. So, sana with this activity ay mas maintindihan ng lahat kung ano ang kaibahan ng HIV sa AIDS, then kung paano ba ito naiiwasan,” Tabangay.
The voluntary screening was done in Port Barton during the Arawidan Festival on January 27.
Tabangay also said they are targeting to conduct voluntary screening for young people every other month in different municipalities under the SK Federation banner in Palawan.
This is the first time for the SK Federation members to hold a HIV-related activity, he added. All those who underwent the HIV test were found negative.
“First time po ito na ang buong SK Federation ay nagc-onduct ng ganito. Lahat din ng SK ay nagpa-test at lahat ay negative. Plano namin na parang maging bench mark na siya ng SK, every other month ay pupunta kami ng ibang munisipyo [lalo na kapag may festival] kasi maraming tao ang nandoon, kaya ‘yon sana ang target namin,” he said.
In November 2019, an estimated 389 HIV cases were recorded in Palawan from January to June, of which 240 were from Puerto Princesa City, said Regina Villapa, City Health Office (CHO) medical technologist for HIV and Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD).
She said that 90 percent of the HIV cases in Palawan were from individuals engaging in male-to-male relationships, while some cases were mother-to-child transmission.