Asia-Pacific survey: HIV patients in PH most affected by pandemic

The results show that more than 90 percent of people living in the Philippines with HIV, and others at-risk, reduced or delayed their visits to HIV clinics amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

December 7, 2020

Gilead Sciences, Inc. and the Sustained Health Initiatives of the Philippines (SHIP) recently revealed results from a survey to evaluate the impact of COVID-19 on the access and delivery of care in HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) infections, which includes testing, treatment and prevention, in Asia-Pacific.

The results show that more than 90 percent of people living in the Philippines with HIV, and others at-risk, reduced or delayed their visits to HIV clinics amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Moreover, eight in 10 Filipino respondents were concerned about their long-term ability to access antiretroviral medications, one of the highest percentages among all respondents in the Asia-Pacific region.

The Philippines has the highest new HIV infection rates in the region.

The disruption caused by the pandemic can set back efforts in trying to reduce this infection rate.

The survey “Impact of COVID-19 on Access and Delivery of HIV Care in Asia Pacific” was conducted online, from October to mid-November, in 10 countries/territories in Asia-Pacific (Hong Kong, India, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam) by Kantar Health, funded by Gilead Sciences.

It was disseminated to local medical societies, HIV patient groups and care centers.

A total of 1,265 respondents, including people living with HIV (PLHIV), individuals at-risk, and HIV care prescribers, were interviewed in the region.

Insights
A total of 153 of these respondents were from the Philippines.

An analysis into the responses in the survey provides additional insights into the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic:

• COVID-19 has impacted HIV testing most severely in the Philippines: The Philippines reported the highest decline in frequency of testing across all respondent groups in the region.

Access to testing was reported to be most disrupted among individuals at-risk, with 64 percent of them reporting decrease in frequency of testing.

Travel restrictions (68 percent) and concerns of getting infected at point-of-care (68 percent) were the main reasons for the change in behavior.

The Department of Health (DoH) previously raised concerns over the lack of HIV testing in the country due to quarantine restrictions and travel constraints.

Newly diagnosed cases in the Philippines dropped by 68 percent in the second quarter of 2020 compared to 2019, but the DoH’s epidemiology bureau noted that there has been limited access to HIV services since March.

• COVID-19 has also disrupted preventive care: More than half of at-risk respondents in the Philippines have reported that they had either decreased or stopped their intake of preventive medications, with 100 percent of them citing travel restrictions as the cause for the disruption.

“Proper routine testing, as well as preventive care, are important for affected populations to manage their health to avoid higher risk of health complications.

It is crucial to find new ways to provide support and access to adequate HIV care when they experience such constraints,” said Dr. Kate Leyritana of SHIP. “The increased adoption of telehealth services observed during the pandemic is one such mode of care delivery and we believe that telehealth can bridge the gap in access to HIV care in the long-term.”

SHIP, established in 2015, aims to bridge gaps in HIV response by strengthening the continuum of care through innovation, partnerships, and capacity building.

A leader and enabler in the HIV community, SHIP has been providing new learning approaches to HIV primary care.

Source: https://tribune.net.ph/index.php/2020/12/07/asia-pacific-survey-hiv-patients-in-ph-most-affected-by-pandemic/

HIV tagged a public threat as cases rise daily, DOH says

ByClaudeth Mocon-Ciriaco

WHILE the country is combating the Covid-19 pandemic, the Department of Health (DOH) assured the public that the agency “remains focused and resolute” in its mandate of preventing and reducing transmission of HIV as 21 new cases are being reported every day.

According to the Department of Health (DOH)  HIV/AIDS and ART Registry of the Philippines (HARP), there are a total of 81,169 HIV and AIDS cases reported from January 1984 to October 2020. 

In October 2020, there were a total of 735 confirmed HIV-positive individuals, 96 percent (704) of whom were male.

Among the total number of  81,169 diagnosed cases from January 1984 to October 2020, 94 percent (76,216) were male and more than half (51 percent, 41,163) were 25-34 years old at the time of diagnosis.

The regions with the most number of reported cases were the National Capital Region (NCR) with 30,622 cases (38 percent), Calabarzon with 12,467 (15 percent), Central Luzon with 8,005 (10 percent), Central Visayas with 6,827 (eight percent), and Davao Region with 4,477 (six percent).

Continued collaboration

Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III said that the 21 cases diagnosed daily in the country is a public health threat which needs the continued cooperation and collaboration of all local communities, civil society organizations, key populations at-risk and the whole of government.

“Despite the presence of the Covid-19 pandemic, we should all remain focused and resolute in our mandate of preventing and reducing transmission,” Duque said.

The health chief stressed that the government wil continue to provide quality HIV and AIDS-related services that are readily available including addressing conditions that aggravate the spread of HIV infection like poverty, gender inequality, marginalization and ignorance.

Delayed visits

Gilead Sciences, Inc. and the Sustained Health Initiatives of the Philippines (SHIP) announced the results of a a pulse survey conducted to evaluate the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the access and delivery of HIV care, which includes testing, treatment and prevention, in Asia-Pacific. 

The results show that more than 90 percent of people living with HIV as well as individuals at-risk in the Philippines reduced or delayed their visits to HIV clinics during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Moreover, eight in 10 Filipino respondents were concerned about their long-term ability to access antiretroviral medications, one of the highest percentages amongst all respondents in the Asia-Pacific region.

With the latest and highest HIV infection rates in the region, the disruption caused by the pandemic can set back efforts in trying to reduce this incidence rate. 

The Philippines is one of 10 countries and territories in Asia-Pacific involved in the survey. A total of 1,265 respondents, including people living with HIV (PLHIV), individuals at-risk, and HIV care prescribers, were interviewed from the region; 153 of these respondents were from the Philippines. 

An analysis into the responses in the survey provided additional insights into the disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic: 

Covid-19 has had the most severe impact on HIV testing in the Philippines. The Philippines reported the highest decline in the frequency of testing across all respondent groups in the region. Access to testing was reported to be most disrupted among individuals at-risk, with 64 percent of them reporting a decrease in frequency of testing. Travel restrictions (68 percent) and concerns of getting infected at point-of-care (68 percent) were the main reasons for the change in behavior. The DOH previously raised concerns over the lack of HIV testing in the country due to quarantine restrictions and travel constraints. Newly diagnosed cases in the Philippines dropped by 68 percent in the second quarter of the year compared to last year, but the DOH’s epidemiology bureau noted that there has been limited access to HIV services since March.  

Covid-19 has also disrupted preventive care. More than half of at-risk respondents in the Philippines have reported that they had either decreased or stopped their intake of preventive medications, with 100 percent of them citing travel restrictions as the cause for the disruption. 

Dr. Kate Leyritana of the Sustained Health Initiatives of the Philippines (SHIP) shared that proper routine testing as well as preventive care are important for affected populations to manage their health to avoid higher risk of health complications. 

“As such, it is crucial for us to find new ways to provide support and access to adequate HIV care when they experience such constraints,” Dr. Leyritana said.

She added that the increased adoption of telehealth services observed during the pandemic is one such mode of care delivery and “we believe that telehealth can bridge the gap in the access to HIV care in the long-term.”

As the survey results suggest, there was an uptake of telehealth services with 70 percent of the PLHIV and individuals at-risk in the Philippines saying that they utilize telehealth services to receive care, and expect to be using telehealth in the future for video consultation (45 percent) and refill of medications (32.5 percent).

“This pulse survey shows that ensuring access to critical HIV care services is an important public health priority especially when an end in sight to the pandemic remains uncertain. Gilead is committed to collaborating with the HIV community from public health authorities to HIV care prescribers, patient groups and civil societies in the Philippines and across the region to identify strategies that can close the gaps to care delivery to ensure the continuity of vital HIV care services during these challenging times and beyond,” said Boon-Leong Neo, Senior Director, Medical Affairs, Gilead Sciences, Asia-Pacific.

Source: https://businessmirror.com.ph/2020/12/10/hiv-tagged-a-public-threat-as-cases-rise-daily-doh-says/


COVID pandemic disrupted HIV care, testing – study

ACCESS to testing and treatment for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) have been disrupted by the coronavirus disease pandemic (COVID-19) pandemic, according to a study conducted by a non-government organization and a US-based biopharmaceutical company.

In a statement for yesterday’s celebration of World’s AIDS Day, the Gilead Sciences Inc. and the Sustained Health Initiatives of the Philippines (SHIP) said the study showed “more than 90 percent of people living with HIV as well as individuals at-risk in the Philippines reduced or delayed their visits to HIV clinics during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

It also said the disruption can set back efforts to reduce the HIV incidence rate.

The study showed that access to testing was reported to be most disrupted among individuals at-risk, with 64 percent reporting decrease in frequency of testing.

Travel restrictions (68 percent) and concerns about getting infected at point-of-care (68 percent) were the main reasons for the change in behavior.

This is in accordance with a statement of the Department of Health regarding its concerns over the lack of HIV testing in the country due to quarantine restrictions and travel constraints.

“Newly diagnosed cases in the Philippines dropped by 68 percent in the second quarter of the year compared to last year, but the DOH’s epidemiology bureau noted that there has been limited access to HIV services since March,” said Gilead and SHIP.

The study also showed that more than half of at-risk respondents in the Philippines have said they had either decreased or stopped their intake of antiretroviral medications.

“A total of 100% of them cited travel restrictions as the cause for the disruption,” said the study.

The study was conducted from October to mid-November 2020, in 10 countries/territories in the Asia Pacific, including Hong Kong, India, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam.

There were 1,265 respondents, with 153 coming from the Philippines.

According to the DOH HIV/AIDS and ART Registry of the Philippines, 81,169 HIV and AIDS cases have been reported from January 1984 to October 2020.

In October 2020 alone, there were 735 confirmed HIV-positive individuals.

In a statement, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the pandemic is not a reason to stop efforts to reduce HIV transmission.

“The 21 new HIV cases diagnosed every day means that the country is facing a public health threat, which needs the continuing cooperation and collaboration of all local communities, civil society organizations, key populations at risk, and the whole of government,” he said.

Source: https://malaya.com.ph/index.php/news_news/covid-pandemic-disrupted-hiv-care-testing-study/

Help end stigma against AIDS – Palace

MANILA, Philippines — The public has been urged to help end the stigma associated with AIDS and work together to boost the country’s capability in curbing health risks.

In a statement issued in observance of World AIDS Day yesterday, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the government has undertaken measures to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS, including the passage of a law that seeks to ensure access to preventive health services.

“As we commemorate World AIDS Day, we must not only help end the stigma of HIV/AIDS but also work together to increase the capacity of our country to early warning risk reduction and management of national and global health risks such as HIV/AIDS,” Roque said at a press briefing.

Roque said the law also punishes discrimination against people with HIV/AIDS and the disclosure of confidential HIV/AIDS-related information.

The Department of Health (DOH) said many Filipinos, mostly men, are still getting infected with human immunodeficiency virus or HIV even in the wake of the COVID pandemic.

Based on the DOH HIV/AIDS Registry of the Philippines (HARP), 735 people tested positive for HIV in October.

A majority or 704 of the new HIV infections are males.

The DOH reported that the cases recorded in October brought to 81,169 the total number of HIV and AIDS cases in the country since January 1984.

Among the 81,169 diagnosed cases, 94 percent or 76,216 were males and more than half or 41,163 were 25 to 34 years old at the time of the diagnosis.

The National Capital Region accounted for the highest number of cases with 30,622, followed by Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon) with 12,467 and Central Luzon with 8,005.

Central Visayas posted a total of 6,827 cases and Davao Region with 4,477.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said HIV remains a public health threat with 21 new infections diagnosed daily among Filipinos.

Duque stressed the need for cooperation and collaboration among all sectors of society to prevent the spread of AIDS in the country.

“Despite the presence of the COVID-19 pandemic, we should all remain focused and resolute in our mandate of preventing and reducing transmission,” Duque said in a statement.

He issued the statement as the DOH and the Philippine National AIDS Council (PNAC) observe this year’s World AIDS Day themed “Global Solidarity, Shared Responsibility.”

This year’s theme recognizes and celebrates the contribution of partners and stakeholders to HIV response in the country.

Duque said health workers, civil society organizations, people living with HIV and various agencies all play a vital role in eliminating the stigma and discrimination as well as in providing accessible testing, treatment, care and support for people living with HIV.

The government, Duque said, would continue providing quality HIV and AIDS-related services, including addressing conditions that aggravate the spread of HIV infection such as poverty, gender inequality, marginalization and ignorance.

A study conducted by Gilead Sciences Inc. and the Sustained Health Initiatives of the Philippines indicated a disruption in access to HIV testing and treatment in the Philippines due to the pandemic.

The study revealed that more than 90 percent of people living with HIV as well as individuals at-risk of the infection reduced or delayed their visits to HIV clinics during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The disruption can set back efforts in trying to reduce the incidence rate, the study said.

In observance of World AIDS Day, the US embassy in Manila launched the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR)-funded program to support the Philippine government’s HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment efforts.

Through PEPFAR, the US government committed more than P875 million over two years for the US-Philippine bilateral efforts against AIDS. – Mayen Jaymalin, Pia Lee-Brago, Robertzon Ramirez, Delon Porcalla

link: https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2020/12/02/2060894/help-end-stigma-against-aids-palace