The Philippines has one of the fastest growing HIV epidemics in the world, with new infections increasing by 25-40% each year. The Department of Health reported in 2011 that 2-4 percent of the population, 2.2 to 4.4 million Filipinos, use illegal drugs. In 2014, a review of records in SHIP’s HIV primary care clinic found that 75% of patients reported a history of recreational drug use at the time of their enrollment.
Substance use is one of the key challenges in successful care and treatment for HIV. Substance use is not only associated with higher risk of acquiring HIV, but it also leads to poor adherence to antiretroviral therapy, which in turn is associated with poor treatment outcomes and increased mortality. The combination of substance abuse and HIV/AIDS poses special challenges for medical providers. Integrated care is the best treatment option, but at present, there are no services in the Philippines catering to the needs of PLHIV who use drugs.
With support from the Foundation for AIDS Research, SHIP aimed to create a way to address the intersecting problems of HIV and Drug Use in the Philippines. To achieve this, a network of health care professionals should be established to create a long-lasting, sustainable, and holistic case management system between the rehabilitation care facilities and HIV treatment hubs.
The objectives of this project were to:
1) Create a referral network of service providers for PLHIV who Use Drugs in the Philippines.
2) Build the capacity of health workers providing services related to drug addiction to provide appropriate care to PLHIV.
3) Build the capacity of health workers providing HIV primary care to provide appropriate, sensitive, and respectful care for PLHIV who are using drugs.