26 new HIV cases daily

This is where we stand as we mark World AIDS Day today: The Philippines is now one of seven countries burdened with an alarming increase in the rate of HIV/AIDS infection.

From a “low and slow” prevalence rate in the early 2000s, the rate of infection is now “fast and furious,” with 26 new HIV cases reported daily. Given the stigma attached to this pandemic, it is safe to assume that the number of unreported cases could be much more.

In fact, according to the Department of Health’s HIV/AIDS and ART (anti-retroviral therapy) Registry of the Philippines (HARP), from January 1984 (when the first HIV case in the country was reported) to June 2016, a total of 34,999 cases were reported, most of them asymptomatic.


The biggest number of reported cases are from the National Capital Region, with Calabarzon a close second. Sexual contact remains the most common mode of transmission, followed by injecting drug use.  Of infections transmitted through sexual contact, 89 percent are among males who have sex with males (MSM).

Particularly worrisome is that the cases have been getting younger through the years. Between 2001 and 2005, the age group with the biggest proportion of cases was 35-49 years; from 2006, it has become 25-34.  The proportion of HIV cases in the 15-24 age group increased from 25 percent in 2006-2010, to 28 percent in 2011-2016. In this last group, 94 percent were male, with 96 percent of them infected through sexual contact.  That most of the cases involved MSM isn’t surprising; at that age, most males are adventurous and reckless.

It’s a risk and reality that could have been addressed with sex education in schools where young people make for a captive audience, had the Supreme Court not blocked the full implementation of the Reproductive Health Law.  Among the issues that could have been addressed by age-appropriate sex education as provided for by the RH Law is safe sex, as well as the ABCD of HIV/AIDS prevention: abstinence, being faithful, condom use, drug use prevention, and so on.  These are basic information that the young, who feel invincible, are not likely to seek out on their own.

The Catholic Church shares the responsibility for abetting the HIV/AIDS crisis, with its continued condemnation of condom use—because, as its bishops have said repeatedly, the prophylactic might be used by couples as a contraceptive device.

It has now been left largely to private groups and NGOs to keep the virus at bay with continuing education, information campaigns and peer counseling, while the DOH and its satellite treatment centers offer free anti-retroviral drugs and free HIV/AIDS testing that—it can’t be stressed enough—is crucial to detect the infection early and tame it with proper treatment.

Fortunately, at an earlier press briefing, the private sector launched an initiative that could help HIV patients comply with their treatment regimen, failure of which could lead to the virus becoming drug-resistant. Called “Connect for Life,” the texted reminder system launched by the SHIP Clinic, Johnson & Johnson and other partners, addresses major challenges in managing HIV/AIDS, including the Philippines’ diverse geography that limits patients’ access to healthcare services. There are also the lingering stigma and sense of shame that make AIDS patients withdraw instead of reaching out to their doctors more often.

Patients can register with SHIP or call J&J, and choose how they want to be reminded or contacted for timely health and fitness tips, consultation, medical advice, and other services they may need in managing the virus. Doctors for their part get a more accurate and updated clinical information system to further engage with their patients. Offered free to HIV patients, the service maintains privacy and confidentiality between patient and health provider through a PIN number that allows only the patient to see the messages. Best of all, the medium used—the mobile phone—is most appropriate, being the ubiquitous device of this age.

It’s community efforts like these that make the HIV+ feel more positive about the future.

Philippine Daily Inquirer / 12:28 AM December 01, 2016

Read more: http://opinion.inquirer.net/99661/26-new-hiv-cases-daily#ixzz4S7VPZkd0

Virtual assistant helps HIV patients take medication regularly

HIV patients having a hard time in taking their medication regularly may soon find help through a “virtual assistant” that reminds them not to miss out their anti-retroviral treatments (ARTs).

Through the launching of “Connect for Life” program in the Philippines, HIV patients can have the chance to receive assistance in monitoring their medication and stay healthy and fit at the same time.

Dr. Kate Leyritana, medical director of Sustained Health Initiatives of the Philippines (SHIP), said with the system, patients can be reminded of the time to take their meds.

“What happens is after you (HIV patient) get registered at the system at the clinic, and you inform your physician or the admin that these are the times I take my meds, I want to be enrolled in the system, the system will call you at your designated times it’s time to take your med,” Leyritana explained.

The response can be done by pressing some options as advised by the operator.

The response will automatically appear in the clinic’s dashboard and the physician can see the patient’s progress through the “HIV adherence reminder service”.

Some colors will appear in the report indicating if the patient took the meds (green); not reported or did not answer the call (orange); did not take meds and honest in reporting (red); etc.

The physician will evaluate if there is a need to call the patient and ask the reasons for not taking the medicines or any other related problems.

In that way, she said they do not have to wait for the patient to make a follow-up, thus reducing the incidence of resistance or mutation.

In addition, the system also gives patients the choice to be reminded to take their meds through a message. Other health tips are also available in the system.

The system will be piloted initially among identified HIV patients at the Philippine General Hospital (PGH).

She expressed hope that other organizations interested in helping HIV patients will make use of the system in the aim to reach out to HIV patients.

“We’re hoping that eventually ma-pipick-out itong government or mai-integrate ito in the healthcare system or yungmga private institution as their ‘patients cause’… Pero, hopefully it will become a government endeavorparahindirinmabigatsapasyente,” Leyritana said in an interview with PNA.

Dr.EdselSalvana, director of Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology of the National Institute of Health, University of the Philippines, the rule to be followed in taking ARTs is almost similar to taking antibiotics.

Salvana said taking ARTs should not be missed out so as not to develop resistance which could be harmful to a patient since it would be harder to find the proper ART if the immune system would no longer respond.

The “Connect for Life” started in London, then followed by India and Uganda.

“Our goal with ‘Connect for Life’ is to improve the lives of those affected by HIV and significantly reduce the incidence of the disease. Healthcare solutions and appropriate planning must be centeredaround patient needs,” said Dr. Erwin Benedicto of Johnsons and Johnsons during the launching.

It is significant to note that from one case in 2008 being diagnosed in a day, to 4 in 2010, 9 in 2012, 17 in 2014, at least 26 people are diagnosed with HIV in a day.

This means that in the current trend, at least one Filipino is infected with HIV in an hour.

According to the World Health Organization country profile on HIV AIDS, the Philippines had for many years recorded a low level HIV epidemic.

“From 1984 to 2006, there was a slow but steady increase. But in recent years, the number of cases detected per year has increased dramatically,” it said.

It added according to recent estimations and projections, the Philippines has one of the fastest-growing HIV epidemics in the world, the estimated HIV incidence having risen more than 25 percent since 2001.

The Department of Health projects that the number of cases could still go up as it intensifies its campaign in encouraging people to know their status by availing of the free HIV.

Data from DOH show that from January to October this year, total number of HIV/AIDS cases is 7,756. From July to October alone, cases recorded were 3,112.

From January to October, 4,113 individuals between 25-34 years old were diagnosed with HIV/AIDS.

HIV testing centers offer counselling and if found positive of the virus, the patient would be provided with ART.

HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, attacks the person’s immune system.

HIV is found in blood, breast milk, semen and vaginal fluids. HIV in semen and vaginal fluids can be transmitted during unprotected sex.

Other ways that HIV can be transmitted is through injecting drug use and mother to child-transmission during pregnancy.

source: Manila Bulletin

posted Dec. 1, 2016



Johnson & Johnson Introduces Connect for Life™ Program to Improve HIV Information

Building on its long-standing commitment to global public health, Johnson & Johnson (Philippines), Inc. today announced that Connect for Life™, a comprehensive HIV Disease Management Program developed by the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson (Janssen), has  been launched in a partnership between Janssen and the Sustained Health Initiatives of the Philippines (SHIP), a non-governmental organization (NGO) running a specialist HIV care center with the Philippines General Hospital in Manila. Sustained Health Initiatives of the Philippines (SHIP), Inc. is a non-stock non-profit organization that offers high-quality, affordable HIV and primary care directly to the communities that need it most.

Every day since Jun6e 2016, 26 get infected. This is very alarming.

Every day since June 2016, 26 get infected. This is very alarming

The Connect for Life™ program aims to significantly reduce the burden of HIV by improving understanding of the attitudes people hold towards HIV and the factors that affect patient adherence to their medicines, as well as how well treatments work and the availability of ongoing care. Working together, Johnson & Johnson (Philippines), Inc. and SHIP will undertake essential research into current awareness and attitudes toward HIV in the Philippines in order to generate the necessary evidence to guide education and treatment practices.

“Our goal with Connect for Life™ is to improve the lives of those affected by HIV and significantly reduce the incidence of the disease. Healthcare solutions and appropriate care planning must be centeredaround patients’ needs,” explained Dr.Randeep Gill, Disease Management Programs Leader, Janssen on the Connect for Life™ program. “We are delighted to work with committed local providers. Using an evidence-based approach we will engage in partnerships, design and develop integrated healthcare solutions focusing on patient’s and health care worker’s needs, and support the implementation of structured interventions to turn the tide on an increasing epidemic.”

The situation of the Philippines.

The Philippines is one of seven countries in the world where HIV infection rates are increasing. It had the highest proportional increase of infections among 15-24 year olds from 2005-2015, and the number of people living with HIV is anticipated to increase substantially by 2022. The quality of HIV care in the country is varied, with time from diagnosis to treatment and level of stigma differing greatly between regions.

The introduction of the Connect for Life™ program in the Philippines extends Johnson & Johnson’s commitment to addressing global unmet public health needs on a more focused and local basis, ensuring that solutions are tailored to the region and the needs of the community are fully understood in order to offer the best outcomes for patients.

The diverse geography of the Philippines often limits access to healthcare services and improved inter-connectivity between health providers could reduce variations in quality of care across the islands. Connect for Life™ offers treating physicians a clinical information system to further engage with their patients and offers patients the means to stay connected across remote locations.

“This collaboration forms part of an ongoing effort to leverage the strengths of Johnson & Johnson and bring forth innovative programs to improve health outcomes,” said Jeffrey Go, Managing Director, Johnson & Johnson Philippines, Inc. “Through Connect for Life™ the patient is placed at the heart of the decision-making process which can build trust and understanding between the patient and their doctor, resulting in better health and well-being for people living with HIV.”


Dec. 1, 2016

Johnson & Johnson Introduces Connect for Life™ Program to Improve HIV Information