THE Philippine government, through the Department of Health (DOH), received P85 million ($1.5 million) worth of United States (US) government-donated viral load testing cartridges for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) to achieve the country’s goal to end Aids by 2030 through evidence-based strategies.

“This donation of more than 86,000 viral load cartridges from the US government will be pivotal to the country’s HIV treatment program,” said DOH Officer-in-Charge Maria Rosario Vergeire.

US Ambassador MaryKay Carlson, who led the handover of the HIV viral load testing cartridges, maintained the US government “is committed to working alongside the DOH, the community of Filipinos living with HIV, and local governments like Manila City to ensure that people living with HIV in the country have equitable access to a viral load test.”

“With this donation, we aim to amplify the hopeful message of U equals U: that undetectable is indeed untransmittable,” said Carlson during the recently held turnover of donations to commemorate this year’s World Aids Day.

Secured through the President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (Pepfar) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAid), the cartridges will be distributed to HIV treatment hubs and facilities across the Philippines and are expected to cover the country’s viral load testing requirements for all patients undergoing HIV treatment for one year, according to the embassy.

It added the donations “signify the US government’s commitment to supporting the Philippines in addressing supply chain bottlenecks in the procurement of critical commodities in HIV detection and treatment.”

“We are filled with so much hope that we will no longer have to lose our loved ones to HIV and that we will be able to carry on with our lives, free from worry and stigma,” said Network Plus co-convenor Elena Felix said on behalf of the people living with HIV (PLHIV) community.

Since December 2020, the US government has given over P 1 billion ($18.2 million) to the Philippine government through Pepfar to support HIV prevention, case finding, and treatment interventions.

According to the embassy, the donations included more than 81,000 bottles of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), an HIV-preventive drug that is being distributed by the DOH in more than 50 facilities across Metro Manila, Central Luzon, and Calabarzon.

This donation, worth P31.3 million ($552,996), was turned over to the Philippine government in June 2021. (SunStar Philippines)