HIV / AIDS

The country has recorded the highest number of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) new cases ever reported since 1984. Citing data from the HIV/AIDS Registry of the Philippines (HARP), the Department of Health (DOH) reported a total of 841 new cases of the potentially deadly infection in June. HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is a virus that attacks the immune system, the body’s natural defense system. Without a strong immune system, the body has trouble fighting off disease. Both the virus and the infection it causes are called HIV. This damage to the immune system makes it harder and harder for the body to fight off infections and some other diseases. Opportunistic infections or cancers take advantage of a very weak immune system and signal that the person has AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). AIDS can take more than 8-10 years to develop after infection with HIV. CAUSE Scientists identified a type of chimpanzee in Central Africa as the source of HIV infection in humans. They believe that the chimpanzee version of the immunodeficiency virus (called simian immunodeficiency virus, or SIV) most likely was transmitted to humans and mutated into HIV when humans hunted these chimpanzees for meat and came into contact with their infected blood. TRANSMISSION HIV is transmitted through – body fluids: semen and vaginal fluids through sexual intercourse – drug injection by the sharing of needles contaminated with infected blood; – transfusion of infected blood or blood products – infected woman to her baby – before birth, during birth or just after delivery. HIV is not spread through ordinary social contact – shaking hands – eating from the same utensils – by hugging or kissing Mosquitoes and insects do not spread the virus nor is it water-borne or air- borne. SYMPTOMS Some people may experience a flu-like illness within 2-4 weeks after HIV infection. But some people may not feel sick during this stage. Flu-like symptoms can include: • Fever • Chills • Rash • Night sweats • Muscle aches • Sore throat • Fatigue • Swollen lymph nodes • Mouth ulcers These symptoms can last anywhere from a few days to several weeks. During this time, HIV infection may not show up on an HIV test, but people who have it are highly infectious and can spread the infection to others. One should not assume you have HIV just because you have any of these symptoms. Each of...

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LIVER CANCER

The liver is a key player in your body’s digestive system. Everything you eat or drink, including medicine, passes through it. You need to treat it right so it can stay healthy and do its job. The liver is about the size of a football and sits under the lower ribcage on the right side. It has several important things to do. It helps clean blood by getting rid of harmful chemicals that the body makes. It makes a liquid called bile, which helps break down fat from food. It also stores sugar called glucose, which gives a quick energy boost when needed. Liver cancer or Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the growth and spread of unhealthy cells in the liver. Cancer that starts in the liver is called primary liver cancer. Cancer that spreads to the liver from another organ is called metastatic liver cancer. SYMPTOMS Liver cancer symptoms may include fatigue, bloating, pain on the right side of the upper abdomen or back and shoulder, nausea, loss of appetite, feelings of fullness, weight loss, weakness, fever, and jaundice (yellowing of the eyes and the skin). CAUSE There are several risk factors for liver cancer: • Long-term hepatitis B and hepatitis C infection are linked to liver cancer because they often lead to cirrhosis. Hepatitis B can lead to liver cancer without cirrhosis. • Excessive alcohol use. • Obesity and diabetes are closely associated with a type of liver abnormality called nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) that may increase the risk of liver cancer, especially in those who drink heavily or have viral hepatitis. • Certain inherited metabolic diseases. • Environmental exposure to aflatoxins. DIAGNOSIS Liver disease can often be difficult to diagnose because its symptoms can be vague and easily confused with other health problems. In some cases, a person may have no symptoms at all but the liver may already have suffered significant damage. If your doctor suspects that you may have liver disease, he or she will want to have a frank discussion regarding the possible risk factors to which you may have been exposed. These risk factors may include – prescription or over-the-counter drug use – past blood transfusions – sexual activity – alcohol consumption – occupational exposure to blood products (i.e. through accidental needle sticks) – exposure to toxic chemicals – family history of liver disease – travel to high risk areas or –...

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RABIES FAQ

What is rabies? Rabies is a disease that is transmitted to humans from domestic and wild animals that is caused by a virus. How is rabies transmitted? Transmission of rabies virus usually begins when infected saliva of a host is passed to an uninfected animal. The most common mode of rabies virus transmission is through the bite and virus-containing saliva of an infected host. What are the symptoms of rabies? The first symptoms of rabies may be very similar to those of the flu including general weakness or discomfort, fever, or headache. These symptoms may last for days. There may be also discomfort or a prickling or itching sensation at the site of bite, progressing within days to symptoms of cerebral dysfunction, anxiety, confusion, agitation. As the disease progresses, the person may experience delirium, abnormal behavior, hallucinations, and insomnia. If bitten by a stray animal, what should be properly done? Immediately wash the bite wound with soap and clean water. Antiseptics may be applied. Consult a physician or go to your nearest Animal Bite Center for immunization. The victim may also be given antibiotics and anti-tetanus immunization, if indicated. Consult a veterinarian for the management of the biting dog. www.who.int www.cdc.gov...

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OVERWEIGHT & OBESITY QUESTIONS ANSWERED II

WHAT CAUSES OBESITY AND OVERWEIGHT? The fundamental cause of obesity and overweight is an energy imbalance between calories consumed and calories expended. In obese or overweight people, there is usually an increased intake of energy-dense foods that are high in fat, salt and sugars but low in vitamins, minerals and other micronutrients; and a decrease in physical activity due to the increasingly sedentary nature of many forms of work, changing modes of transportation, and increasing urbanization. WHAT ARE COMMON HEALTH CONSEQUENCES OF OVERWEIGHT AND OBESITY? In adults, increased BMI is a major risk factor for non-communicable diseases, such as: Cardiovascular diseases (mainly heart disease and stroke) Diabetes Musculoskeletal disorders (especially osteoarthritis – a highly disabling degenerative disease of the joints) Certain cancers (endometrial, breast, and colon). In children, childhood obesity is associated with a higher chance of obesity, premature death and disability in adulthood. But in addition to increased future risks, obese children experience breathing difficulties, increased risk of fractures, hypertension, early markers of cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance and psychological effects. HOW CAN OVERWEIGHT AND OBESITY BE PREVENTED OR REDUCED? Whether you’re at risk of becoming obese, currently overweight or at a healthy weight, you can take steps to prevent unhealthy weight gain and related health problems. Not surprisingly, the steps to prevent weight gain are the same as the steps to lose weight: daily exercise, a healthy diet, and a long-term commitment to watch what you eat and drink. Exercise regularly. Try to get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity a week to prevent weight gain. Moderately intense physical activities include fast walking and swimming. Eat healthy meals and snacks. Focus on low-calorie, nutrient-dense foods, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Avoid saturated fat and limit sweets and alcohol. You can still enjoy small amounts of high-fat, high-calorie foods as an infrequent treat. Just be sure to choose healthy more often Know and avoid situations that trigger out-of-control eating. Try keeping a journal and write down what you eat, how much you eat, when you eat, how you’re feeling and how hungry you are. After you see patterns emerge, you can plan ahead and develop strategies for handling these types of situations and stay in control of your eating behaviors Monitor your weight regularly. People who weigh. Monitoring your weight themselves at least once a week can make you more successful in keeping off excess pounds,...

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OVERWEIGHT & OBESITY QUESTIONS ANSWERED I

WHAT ARE OVERWEIGHT AND OBESITY? Overweight and obesity are defined as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that may impair health. HOW DO I KNOW IF I AM OVERWEIGHT OR OBESE? Overweight and obesity in adults are commonly determined using the Body mass index (BMI), a simple index of weight-for-height. It is defined as a person’s weight in kilograms divided by the square of his height in meters (kg/m2). The table below shows the WHO International Classification of adult underweight, overweight and obesity according to BMI as of 2004. Classification BMI(kg/m2) Principal cut-off points Additional cut-off points Underweight <18.50 <18.50      Severe thinness <16.00 <16.00      Moderate thinness 16.00 – 16.99 16.00 – 16.99      Mild thinness 17.00 – 18.49 17.00 – 18.49 Normal range 18.50 – 24.99 18.50 – 22.99 23.00 – 24.99 Overweight ≥25.00 ≥25.00      Pre-obese 25.00 – 29.99 25.00 – 27.49 27.50 – 29.99      Obese ≥30.00 ≥30.00           Obese class I 30.00 – 34.99 30.00 – 32.49 32.50 – 34.99           Obese class II 35.00 – 39.99 35.00 – 37.49 37.50 – 39.99           Obese class III ≥40.00 ≥40.00 Source: Adapted from WHO, 1995, WHO, 2000 and WHO 2004. www.who.int DID YOU KNOW? Worldwide obesity has more than doubled since 1980. In 2008, more than 1.4 billion adults, 20 and older, were overweight. Of these over 200 million men and nearly 300 million women were obese. In 2010, more than 40 million children under the age of five were overweight....

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EPILEPSY: MYTH VS. FACT

September 2 to 9 is National Epilepsy Awareness Week. Here are some myths about epilepsy, and the real facts behind this condition. Myth: Epilepsy is caused by insanity or demonic possession. Fact: Epilepsy is a brain disorder characterized by recurrent seizures. In epilepsy, the normal pattern of electrical activity in the brain becomes disturbed, causing strange sensations, emotions, and behavior or sometimes convulsions, muscle spasms, and loss of consciousness. Although psychosis may be found in only 2-7% of persons with epilepsy, it is the exception rather than the rule. Myth: Epilepsy can only be inherited from parents or grandparents. Fact: Many conditions can cause epilepsy. In a small number of patients (10-15%), the susceptibility or predisposition to develop seizures may be inherited. However, for the most number of patients, it can be due to other brain insults. It may happen in those with a history of head injury. It may also happen to those with hypoxic brain injury sustained from a birth complication (lack of brain oxygen in the baby during child birth due to coiled cord around neck of baby, difficult labor, maternal complications leading to fetal distress). It may also result from an infection of the brain (meningitis, encephalitis), brain tumors, strokes, prolonged convulsions in childhood. The cause may be unknown in around 40% of cases. Myth: Epilepsy patients are mentally challenged. Fact: This is a misperception because epilepsy is highly prevalent among other disability groups such as autism (25.5%), cerebral palsy (13%), Down syndrome (13.6%) and mental retardation (25.5%). However, if one looks at the entire population of people suffering from epilepsy, majority of them have normal IQs, are able to go to school and sustain gainful employment. Myth: When a patient starts to have a seizure, the best first aid is to stick a spoon inside his mouth. Fact: When a person goes into a seizure, there are very powerful muscle contractions that suddenly cause him to fall, stop breathing, bite his tongue and clamp his jaw. Inserting an object into his mouth has been found to be more detrimental to the patients and has caused dental fractures, mouth lacerations and suffocation. It is not encouraged. In the event of a seizure, one should: • Cushion the patient’s head with a soft pillow • Loosen his clothing around the neck • Remove harmful objects around him which can hurt or injure him • Turn him...

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