DOH to buy P180M worth of HIV drugs
MANILA, Philippines–The Department of Health (DOH) is forking over P180 million from its budget this year to procure antiretroviral (ARV) drugs for Filipinos living with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
Dr. Jose Gerard Belimac, program manager of the DOH Philippine National AIDS Council, said the government has beefed up its commitment to provide funding for the treatment of persons living with the HIV infection after the Global Fund suspended its grant for ARV therapy.
Global Fund is an international organization that extends grants to countries to help address HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis.
“Actually, the pullout of Global Fund has a good implication. It means the government already has a high level of commitment to HIV treatment,” Belimac told reporters on the sidelines of a media training on epidemiology in Tarlac City last week.
Belimac said Global Fund was redirecting its assistance to government programs on the prevention of the spread of HIV, which could lead to AIDS or acquired immune deficiency syndrome.
AIDS is a condition in which the body’s immune system is attacked and damaged by the virus, ultimately leading to death.
From January to February this year, the DOH recorded 1,182 new HIV/AIDS cases. In February alone, 646 new cases were reported, the biggest number reported in a month “in the history of HIV in the country,” Belimac said.
“To simplify the numbers, at least 21 people were infected daily in February,” he said.
But HIV patients could live longer if they undergo ARV therapy.
In 2013, the World Health Organization issued new HIV treatment guidelines, recommending that ARV therapy be given to HIV patients earlier.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.