Advocates continue to serve people with HIV in Bicol amid COVID-19
GUINOBATAN, Albay –– GentleMen Bicol, a sexual and reproductive rights group continues their support for people living with human immunodeficiency virus (PLHIV) and screen possible cases amid the lockdown because of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
Richard Hayag, GentleMen Bicol president, told The Inquirer that there are 60 PLHIVs in Albay.
In other Bicol provinces, the group has identified 30 more whom they have also extended support to.
With help from Team Albay Youth Organizations, the group has provided relief goods to help PLHIVs cope with the lockdown.
In addition to two treatment hubs in Bicol, the Bicol Medical Center in Camarines Sur province and the Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital in Albay, refilling hubs were set up in the provincial health offices in other provinces.
“This helps those who are far from the city. They can just go to their provincial health office (PHO) to get their medicine,” Hayag said. “We coordinate with the rural health units for those who are far from the PHOs.”
With the entire Luzon under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), PLHIVs do not have easy access to checkups and antiretroviral drugs.
“Most of them have a livelihood that was affected by the ECQ so they don’t have a source of income,” he said. “We provide online assistance to those who contact us and we link them to the nearest hubs.”
The group’s screening tests have not been hampered by the lockdown.
“A PLHIV is immunocompromised. The immune system is weak, so there’s a big chance to contract COVID-19 or other infections, so we continue our HIV screening,” Hayag said.
He also urged those who are concerned about having HIV to go to the nearest social hygiene clinics for screen tests.
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