GENERAL SANTOS City– The Department of Health (DOH) in Region 12 is set to open a satellite treatment hub here for patients who are infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
Dr. Ali Tumama, DOH-12 program manager for sexually-transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome), said the construction of the treatment facility is underway in coordination with the city government.
He said the establishment of the treatment hub, which will be managed by the City Health Office’s Social Hygiene Clinic (SHC), is mainly aimed to encourage more HIV patients in the area to undergo antiretroviral (ARV) drug treatment.
“The ARV drugs will be available soon at the clinic,” he said in a statement.
HIV patients from Region 12 currently receive ARV treatment at the Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao City that had been designated as the treatment hub for the area.
ARV drug treatment mainly stops the multiplication of the infected person’s viral load and eventually prevents them from further spreading the disease.
In some countries, the use of ARV drugs has helped effectively lower the incidence of HIV infection to about one percent and eventually stabilized the detected cases.
Tumama said the ARV drugs will also be provided for free at the satellite treatment hub.
He said the national government has been supporting the HIV treatment hubs through taxes collected from tobacco and alcohol products.
The government spends around PHP70,000 for the annual treatment of HIV patients, he said.
Since 2007, the SHC here has already diagnosed 206 cases of HIV/AIDS.
Fifty of the patients, who came from parts of Region 12, had died due to advanced infections.
Dr. Mely Lastimoso, SHC coordinator, said the opening of the HIV treatment facility here will facilitate the immediate treatment of newly-detected HIV cases.
He said it will also ensure that patients will get proper treatment and as scheduled.
She noted that even if ARV reduces the risks of death and complications, patients need to strictly adhere to the treatment program.
“This means strictly no delays in taking medicines. A 100 virus count might multiply into thousands viruses if the ARV is not taken religiously,” she said.
Lastimoso explained that each patient needs a single dose of ARV on a daily basis “for life.” (pna)