Mobile App to assist HIV patients launched

As the total number of people infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in the Philippines could reach 55,000 by December 2016, a comprehensive HIV Disease Management Program called “Connect for Life” was launched in a bid to reduce the burden of the disease that infects 26 Filipinos every day.


“Connect for life is a comprehensive program that aims to improve the lives of HIV patients by creating a more immediate link between them and their doctors through an interactive mobile application with three main functions,” said Dr. Erwin Benedicto of Johnson and Johnson during the launch which was held in Makati City yesterday.


“First, it helps patients with their adherence of their treatment with regular and personalized medication. Second, it acts as a personal healthcare provider by analyzing patients’ important symptoms to explain if it’s serious or unexpected side effect of medication; and by providing corresponding advice on what to do. And finally, it helps improve the overall quality of life of the patients with health tips on a wide variety of topics relevant to each person,” he stated.


The program, developed by Johnson & Johnson and Sustained Health Initiatives of the Philippines (SHIP), aims to significantly reduce the burden of HIV by improving understanding of the attitudes people hold towards HIV and the factors that affect patients’ adherence to their medicines, as well as how well treatments work and the availability of ongoing care.


Published November 29, 2016, 10:00 PM

by Charina Clarisse L. Echaluce

HIV specialist urges patients to take medication regularly

A specialist has warned human immunodeficiency virus or HIV patients to do their anti-retroviral therapy regularly or run the risk of developing resistance to the treatment.

Dr. Edsel Salvaña, director at the National Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, National Institutes of Health of the University of the Philippines Manila, noted that like bacteria, the human immunodeficiency virus becomes resistant to drugs.

Spelling out what occurs when an HIV patient fails to take his/her medication regularly, Salvaña said once a patient develops resistance to one ART, his/her doctor will have to try another set of ART. Since there are only about seven ARTs available in the country — provided by the Department of Health — a patient will eventually run out of treatment that could work for him/her, he said.

ART, the combination of several anti-retroviral medicines that slow down the multiplication of HIV in the body, is not a direct cure for HIV. It, however, controls a patient’s viral load from increasing, and instead brings that load down so the patient’s immune system could be strengthened. When this happens, a patient could be protected from opportunistic infections that could weaken his/her system. That protection is the reason why the patient does not develop full-blown AIDS (acquired immuno-deficiency syndrome) in a span of 10 years. Once taken, ART should be taken for life.

ART actually eroded the scenario 30 years ago when AIDS was first pictured out and understood in the country, Salvaña said.

Back then, people who acquired the virus had to prepare themselves to face the reality of dying.

“But now, 30 years after, here is a treatment through ARTs wherein once you start treatment you are alive (provided the patient regularly takes his/her medication). Who knows? Years after, a cure might really come,” he said, reiterating that to get the full benefit of ARTs, patients should never disregard the regular taking of their medication.

Meanwhile, as an intervention, Johnson and Johnson (Philippines) recently partnered with the Sustained Health Initiatives of the Philippines, a nongovernmental organization, in coming up with a system to track down HIV patients taking ARTs at the Philippine General Hospital.

Under the partnership, the health providers, through the SHIP, will operate a system that would find out how compliant the patients are in taking their medication, educate them, and aid them in the management of their HIV for better outcomes.

Under the system, called “Connect for Life” and launched Nov. 29, patients have a virtual assistant that calls them to remind them that it is time to take their medicine; responds if there is a problem; knows how compliant the patients are; and motivates them to practice a healthy lifestyle.*PNA

Connect to Life, Connect to Love: New HIV Program Empowers Public to Better Healthcare

From left to right. Dr. Erwin Benedicto of Johnson and Johnson, Dr. Antoinette Evangelista , Program Officer of Dept. of Health, Edsel Salvana Director of the Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology of the National Institute of Health, Dr. Kate Leyritana, Medical Director of Sustained Health Initiatives of the Philippines; and Mr. Renier Louie Bona, HIV Counsellor

Connect For Life is a new comprehensive HIV Disease Management Program of the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson. This initiative is a collaboration between Janssen and the Sustained Health Initiatives of the Philippines (SHIP), a non-government organization running a specialist HIV care center in the Philippines General Hospital.  The goal of Connect For Life is to make people more aware about HIV and lessen the stigma still attached to it. Better healthcare can be achieved when attitudes about the illness is improved. The program also aims to enhance educational policies about HIV so that more Filipinos will know their available treatment options.

Let Me Be Your Shelter

A lot of people may wonder why this is important. “I shouldn’t get tested,” they say. “I am not affected OR infected.”

However, current statistics prove that the Philippines is one of seven countries whose number of HIV-infected individuals is increasing every year. What exacerbates the problem is the almost negligible amount of educational programs available. Furthermore, it is estimated that the H


IV care here is varied, with treatment options and doctor attitudes differing between regions.

What is more troubling is the fact the number of infected people is getting younger. That is, the age group with the biggest proportion of cases are n


ow teenagers – a significant change from how things were only a decade ago. It is estimated that 25% of HIV patients are between 15-24 years old. Health reports say that 95% of these are males, with 89% of those cases being among males having sex with other males.

A Year in a Life of Love

Chances are, you know someone who has the condition or is in relations with a HIV-positive person. How you react to this is also indicative of society’s view of the illness. Connect for Lifeseeks to change that with an incredible private and confidential user system.

Most cases of HIV are asymptomatic in the beginning. This means that a lot of people remain unaware of their risk until the condition has severely worsened; by which case, prognosis is dire. Health officials say that


prevention and early detection is key to living a happy and healthy life. Those who regularly engage in male-to-male intercourse are those who highly recommended to participate in the program. Those who are also at risk are those who use unsterilized needles or mothers who have the condition.

Connect for Life also debunks common myths that surround the disease. For example, many people treat HIV-positive people quite unfairly; even refusing to share a glass of water with them. HIV is transmitted through the transfer of excessive amount of bodily fluids. A small exchange of saliva will not give you HIV.

No Day but Today

The subsections of this article are lyrics in the musical “Rent” because it exemplifies the messag


e and spirit of the issue. It is unfair to assume that if one has HIV, one is different from society. There are many groups who care and wish to help. Connect For Life is a way for one to achieve better healthcare through proper information. Let this be your Christmas present to yourself: the gift of worth and love.

Other advocacy groups for HIV awareness and information in the Philippines are: the Positive Action Foundation Philippines, Incorporated (PAFPI), LoveYourself, Project Red Ribbon, Pinoy Plus Association, HIV Awareness Campaign Group, and UNAIDs.



Connect to Life, Connect to Love: New HIV Program Empowers Public to Better Healthcare