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Join the HIV Adult Primary Care Skills Upbuilding Workshop this 2019!


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

PHL sex stance in focus as HIV/AIDS cases rise


AS the Philippines emerged as one of the countries with accelerating rates of new cases of persons with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), staging more efficient information dissemination on HIV is gnarly for health authorities.

Assistant Health Secretary Enrique A. Tayag said that, with the P400-million funding for HIV/AIDS, the Department of Health (DOH) would like to focus on prevention “rather than treatment”.

Tayag said persons living with HIV acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) who are enrolled in the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) can receive specific benefits and assistance.

Tayag was referring to the PhilHealth Outpatient HIV/AIDS Treatment (OHAT) package that covers antiretroviral treatment (ART) and laboratory exams based on specific treatment guideline. These guidelines cover CD4 cell determination, viral load test, drug-toxicity test and professional fees of providers.

The package covers up to P30,000 worth of necessary medical expenses per member-patient per year.

PhilHealth will be paying a maximum of P30,000 ($599.41, at current exchange rates) per year without cap on how many times the patient will go to treatment hubs and how many medicines or tests the patient will avail himself or herself, as long as it falls within the given amount. The OHAT package goes in accordance with the guidelines set by the DOH. According to Tayag, who is also the DOH spokesman, the department is giving P15,000 ($299.71) per person per year for first line drug and P80,000 ($1,598.44) per person per year for second line drugs.


HEALTH Secretary Paulyn Jean B. Rosell-Ubial said the DOH is continuously
offering free and confidential HIV testing in social-hygiene clinicsrun by local government units and in 22 HIV
Treatment Hubs nationwide.

Ubial added that the DO wH is also providing free condoms. Kits are not available to the public as counseling is required before and after testing, she explained.

The DOH chief said treatment options are available to those who test positive for HIV. ARTs are applied to individuals who need to lower the viral load of patients and to improve their immune response.

The DOH is seriously considering a recently-announced World Health Organization (WHO) recommendation on self-testing to improve HIV-testing rates and prevent treatment delays, according to Ubial. The Philippine National AIDS Council of the DOH is committed to end the spread of HIV and improving the lives of all who live with it, she added. She said the Sixth AIDS Medium Term Plan (AMTP), which “is the blueprint of our national response” on HIV and AIDS have determined the targets for 2022.

Ubial said the government is optimistic on reversing HIV trends in the next six years but “only if an ‘All of Society’ and ‘HIV in All of Policies’ approaches are sought with renewed vigor and determination.”

“The ‘All for Health towards Health for All’ line resonates for stopping HIV,” she said adding, that the global call for “Hands Up for HIV” prevention “has just turned a new leaf in the Philippines.”


OUTSIDE of the government are initiatives by private groups and advocates addressing the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

One is the Philippines’s business of Johnson & Johnson Inc. Weeks after losing a lawsuit in the US on its baby-powder product, Johnson & Johnson Philippines launched late last month a campaign the company calls “a comprehensive HIV disease-management program.”

Developed by the Janssen Pharmaceutical Cos. of Johnson & Johnson, the program tapped non-governmental organization (NGO) Sustained Health Initiatives of the Philippines Inc. (Ship).   Ship has been running a specialist HIV care center with the Philippines General Hospital in Manila. According to documents it provided, the organization “offers high-quality, affordable HIV and primary care directly to the communities that need it most.”

According to Janssen, the program also targets to improve the understanding of the attitudes people hold toward 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 to generate the necessary evidence to guide education and treatment practices.

“Our goal is to improve the lives of those affected by HIV and significantly reduce the incidence of the disease,” Janssen’s Disease Management Programs leader Dr. Randeep Gill said during the launch of the program called “Connect for Life”. “Health-care solutions and appropriate care planning must be centered around patients’ needs.”

According to Gill, the program will use an evidence-based approach in designing and developing “integrated healthcare solutions focusing on patients’ and health-care worker’s needs and support the implementation of structured interventions to turn the tide on an increasing epidemic.”


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 the 15- to 24-year-old age range from 2005 to 2015, documents provided by Janssen said.

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 diverse geography of the Philippines often limits access to health-care services and improved interconnectivity between health providers could reduce variations in quality of care across the islands, according to documents provided by Janssen.

The company said the program offers treating physicians a clinical information system to further engage with their patients and offers patients the means to stay connected across remote locations.

Johnson & Johnson Philippines Inc. Managing Director Jeffrey Go said “the collaboration forms part of an ongoing effort to leverage the strengths of Johnson & Johnson and bring forth innovative programs to improve health outcomes.”

PHL sex stance in focus as HIV/AIDS cases rise