DoH to spend P1B in AIDS fight

September 08, 2019

THE Department of Health (DoH) will soon be spending some P1 billion every year for the antiretroviral therapy (ART) of the growing number of Filipinos living with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), said a party-list congressman on Sunday.

“Right now, the DoH is already spending around P478 million every year for the 38,279 Filipinos living with HIV and actually undergoing life-saving ART,” said Anakalusugan Rep. Michael Defensor.

“The amount is likely to balloon to P1 billion annually by 2022, as more Filipinos living with HIV emerge and seek treatment,” Defensor said.

The cost of a single course of treatment for one HIV patient in a year is between P12,500 to P15,000, according to the DoH.

“We assume that some 10,000 new HIV cases will be discovered annually over the next three years, and that the DoH will succeed in getting 90 percent of them to undergo ART,” Defensor said.

“The 10,000 is a fair estimate, considering that based on DoH data, an annual average of 10,588 new HIV cases were diagnosed countrywide between 2016 and 2018,” Defensor said.

From January to May this year, another 5,366 new HIV cases were spotted nationwide, according to the DOH’s National HIV and AIDS Registry.

“Congress is absolutely committed to find ways to help the DoH achieve its 90-90-90 target in fighting HIV,” Defensor said.

The DoH aims to diagnose 90 percent of all HIV cases in the country, treat 90 percent of those detected, and to suppress the virus in 90 percent of those receiving treatment.

“We would also urge not just the DoH but also provincial, city and municipal health offices in regions with high HIV concentrations to invest more aggressively in preventive programs,” Defensor said.

HIV causes AIDS, or the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, which destroys the human body’s natural ability to ward off all kinds of highly infectious diseases.

Tuberculosis (TB) is one of the leading causes of death among people living with HIV in highly advanced stages, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

However, people living with HIV in the early stages can continue to live normal and economically productive lives as long as their viral load is kept suppressed by ART, the WHO said.

At present, the 38,279 Filipinos actually receiving ART represent only 57 percent of 67,395 cases listed in the National HIV and AIDS Registry as of May this year.