DAVAO CITY – The support of an international funding organization for the maintenance and preventive drug of those infected with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) in the Philippines will end in June, said a City Health official.

“The Global Fund support will end in June but in discussions I attended in Manila, the DOH (Department of Health) said they will be the one to procure the antiretroviral (ARV) drugs,” said Precy Senoc, health education and population officer of the Davao City Health Office (CHO).

Senoc said the DOH “will do this under the premise that it is a state responsibility to (take care of people living with HIV or PLHIVs).”

She said DOH has proposed that government spends P500,000 per individual for three years as a PLHIV roughly needs P200,000 per year. Reports quoted a DOH official as saying that the agency was allocating P180 million from its budget this year to procure ARVs.

“But its a lifetime (treatment), can the government give that now that there are 28,000 (PLHIVs)?” said Senoc.

HIV is the cause of the deadly Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), which attacks the body’s immune system making an individual susceptible to other life-threatening infections.

HIV has no cure but the World Health Organization website said “at least three ARVs are used in a standard ARV therapy (ART) to maximally suppress the HIV virus and stop the progression of HIV disease.”

Data from the HIV/AIDS and ART Registry of the Philippines (Harp) said that in the single month of February this year, they recorded 646 individuals who tested positive with HIV.

Harp said that it is the highest record since 1984.

Ninety-six percent of the cases were males, 586 of the case cited sexual contact as mode of transmission, 58 were from drug users sharing needles, and two were through mother-to-child transmission.

Eighty-four percent of the sexually transmitted cases were among males who have sex with males (MSM).

“As of February this year, there were already 9,113 People Living with HIV (PLHIV) presently on ART. This is the total number of adult and pediatric patients currently enrolled and accessing antiretroviral drugs (ARV) in the 19 treatment hubs,” said the report.

The report said that this “does not include patients who were previously taking ARV but have already died, have left the country, or opted not to take ARV anymore.”

Harp data from January 1984 to February of this year said the regions with the most reported cases were NCR with 10,579 (45 percent) cases, Region 4A with 3,036 (13 percent) cases, Region 7 with 2,152 (nine percent) cases, Region 3 with 1,920 (eight percent) cases, and Region 11 with 1,391 (six percent) cases.

Fifteen percent (3,485) of the cases came from the rest of the country while 1,146 (five percent) had no data on region.

As of 2014, the CHO recorded 157 cases in Davao City, 36 of which are in the Talomo District.

Senoc said the CHO is exerting all efforts in prevention especially in education and in free testing and screening.

She said the next round of tests will be on May 11 for workers of the city government at one of the City Council’s conference rooms.

Another round of free testing will be on May 12 in Calinan, in Davao City’s third District, May 13 in Toril District and May 14 in universities.(davaotoday.com)

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