MANILA — The Department of Health (DOH) said on Wednesday that taking advantage of the free testing for HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) from May 11 to 15 in all the accredited social hygiene clinics and DOH hospitals nationwide is beneficial.
According to DOH spokesperson Dr. Lyndon Lee-Suy, the testing will be a good way to create awareness on the part of those who will be tested positive for HIV to know what are the remedies available for an HIV patient or how the government is helping HIV patients.
In a press briefing held Wednesday at the DOH Media Relations Unit (MRU) in Sta. Cruz, Manila, Dr. Lee-Suy read a message from Health Secretary Janette L. Garin emphasizing that there is nothing to fear about nor be ashamed of in undergoing the voluntary HIV testing.
Lee-Suy added that aside from the free-testing in the 39 testing centers spread nationwide, the week-long activity will be part of the observance of the AIDS Candlelight Memorial on May 17.
He said that HIV testing usually costs up to PhP1,000 in a private clinic.
In the free testing, the participant will accomplish a consent form.
Prior to testing, there will be counseling which will run to about 30 minutes.
Results can be obtained after two hours, but for those that will yield positive outcome, other confirmatory tests will be conducted up to a maximum of 10 days before the patient will be informed.
Dr. Lee-Suy assured that testing will be conducted under strict confidentiality and the free services do not end in the tests.
“There will also be counseling procedures that will follow wherein those who will be tested to be positive with HIV will be given awareness that they can be given proper guidance and that there is a support program being provided for them to prolong their life and control the spread of the virus in their body through ARV (anti-retroviral) drugs,” he added.
He said ARV drug is given free to patients with HIV to help them realize that there is still life after acquiring HIV and they should also protect the people they care about.
ARV acts as controlling agent in the spread of the virus so that the patient’s capacity not to be easily affected by other diseases is strengthened, according to Dr. Gerard Belimac, DOH program manager for NASCPCP (National AIDS/Sexually Transmitted Infection Prevention and Control Program).
DOH Assistant Secretary Paulyn Jean B. Rosell-Ubial said that one thing that they envision with the result of the voluntary testing is for the DOH to gather more accurate picture of the real status of HIV in the country so that more intense campaign in curbing the virus can be further initiated.
Another aim of the testing is to educate the people and remove the stigma against an HIV patient, aside from informing the public that testing of HIV is something not to fear about, especially among those belonging to the high-risk population.
High-risk population refers to those who are sexually active, engaged in needle-sharing among drug addicts, and those who have undergone blood transfusion.
Other health providers are also encouraged to participate in the campaign by implementing more focused and creative activities in commemoration of those who have died due to AIDS.