BEFORE the Reproductive Health and Wellness Center (RHWC) and Davao Regional Medical Center (DRMC) became treatment centers for Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) patients, Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) was the primary treatment hub for the deadly virus in the region.

Due to the rise of numbers of HIV-diagnosed clients throughout the years, SPMC expanded its network, turning RHWC and DRMC into satellite hubs for HIV treatment in a way to decongest.

In 2015, Lorraine Mata, nurse of Hope and Care Today (HACT) clinic of SPMC, served as an encoder of HACT, a clinic of SPMC committed to issues associated with HIV and Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (Aids), which is also in charge for data manager.

During that year, Mata said an average of 10 patients was added to the record each month.

"Early 2015, 20 to 30 patients ang nagpapa-treat (get treated) regardless of newly diagnosed or nagbalik-loob lang (just decided to get treated again). The later part, umaabot na sa (it reaches) 30 to 40 patients each month," Mata said, adding that the numbers has increased to an average 50 to 60 patients undergoing treatment the following year.

"Pero ngayon madalang na lang ang umabot sa 30 patients ang nagpapa-treat since nagkaroon kami ng satellite hubs (But now we don’t treat as much as 30 patients since we have satellite hubs)," the office-in-charge said.

As a mother hub, SPMC provides all means of services including treatment of the virus, accommodates referral clients for HIV screening from private clinics as well as to aid walk-in patients.

Upon screening, all reactive blood specimen will be sent to STD Aids Central Cooperative Laboratory for confirmatory testing which is the Western Blot test.

"Yung mga (The) reactive blood specimens, sila yung mas (have) high risk of being diagnosed with the virus. After naming mapadala sa Manila yung blood specimen (We send the blood specimen to Manila), the turn back time is after two to four weeks. Kung ano ang final result na ipapadala nila, yun na yung official (Whatever the final result is, it’s official)," said Mata, adding that once a blood specimen is non-reactive the hospital could immediately release a print out result.

Once diagnosed, a patient will be endorsed for a check-up to an Infectious Diseases Specialist and will undergo an initial CD4 test, a test to determine how the virus affected the patient's immune system, which is free at SPMC.

Afterwards, the patient must complete the baseline laboratories including x-ray, complete blood count platelet, urinalysis, serum glutamic-pyruvic transaminase test, creatine blood test, lipid profile, fasting blood sugar, anti-Hepatitis B Surface, anti-HCB, Genexpert test for tuberculosis (TB) and ophthalmologist screening before proceeding to the proper medication.

"Kailangan yung mga test because once meron na silang infection such as TB, pneumonia, di pa sila maka-start sa HIV treatment kasi kailangan pa i-treat muna ang naunang infection (The tests are needed because once they have infection such as TB, pneumonia, they can’t start with HIV treatment because those have to be treated first)," Mata elaborated.

Upon completing the test, SPMC will then provide free medicine supply courtesy of the Department of Health.

Medication intake may vary on the classification of virus level was diagnosed but Mata said the most demanded medicine is the lamivudine 300mg/tenofovir; 300mg/efavirenz; and 600mg tab which is also commonly called the 3-in-1.

Mata also said that shortage of medicines may sometimes occur due to the long processing of procurement.

"Yung SPMC naman, our pharmacist and nurses works hand in hand sa projection sa supplies ng gamot. Na-anticipate din yan kasi malalaman naman sa data kung ilan ang bago this month. Kinukuha namin yung average consumption of medicine for a month. So, if may nadadagdag na patients, nadadagdagan din ang supply ng gamot from DOH ((We anticipated this because we will know in the data if how many new cases have been added this month. We get the average consumption of medicine for a month. So, if there are new patients, the supply of medicine from DOH will be added)," Mata explained.

Patients who were getting treated by the SPMC were most likely around Mindanao.

Mata also said that from 2015, cases of death associated with HIV also increased. Succumbed victims were those who stopped submitting into treatment and others were the ones who failed to follow up their treatment, allowing opportunistic complications such as TB, pneumonia and meningitis to take over.