MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) will put up more treatment centers nationwide to provide free anti-retroviral therapy (ART) to the growing number of patients living with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS).
“Kung isa lang ang hub sa isang lugar at dumami ang [HIV/AIDS] cases dun, para makatulong at maka-access sila (patients), then there is no reason why hindi tayo magdagdag sa areas na may pangangailangan,” said DOH spokesman Dr. Lyndon Lee Suy.
(If there is only one hub in a certain place and the [HIV/AIDS] cases there increase, to be able to help and for them (patients) to be able to access, then there is no reason why we won’t add in areas in need.)
The National Capital Region has the most number of HIV cases in the country. It is followed by Calabarzon, Central Visayas, Central Luzon, and Davao Region.
At present, DOH spokesman Dr. Suy said the existing 19 treatment centers nationwide are sufficient since only a few HIV/AIDS patients are availing of the ART services.
The 19 existing ART treatment hubs in the country are the Ilocos Training and Regional Medical Center, Cagayan Valley Medical Center, Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center, Jose B. Lingad Medical Center, James Gordon Memorial Hospital, Makati Medical Center, Philippine General Hospital, Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, San Lazaro Hospital, and the Medical City.
Also offering ART treatments are Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital, Corazon Locsin Montelibano Memorial Regional Hospital, Western Visayas Medical Center, Gov. Celestino Gallares Memorial Hospital, Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center, Zamboanga City Medical Center, Southern Philippines Medical Center, Northern Mindanao Medical Center, and Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center.
According to the August 2014 Philippine HIV/AIDS Registry report, a total of 7,380 people with HIV are enrolled and are accessing the ART services. That figure does not include those who already died, those who left the country, and those who decided to stop getting the ART treatment.
Lee Suy admitted that not everyone living with HIV is seeking treatment due to fear of being discriminated.
The public is continuously encouraged by the DOH to get tested. The agency also hoped that those persons found positive for the infection avail of the free ART services readily available from the government.
“It would be best if all (with HIV) will avail of the ART,” he said. “But again, it is their choice to make, not ours.”
With report from Cyra Moraleda