TESTING for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is being considered in the inclusion in the health packages of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth).
In an interview on Thursday, Merlyn Ybañez, PhilHealth Northern Mindanao information officer, said the matter is being discussed thoroughly by PhilHealth and Department of Health (DOH) officials.
"This is going to be part of the 'enhanced Konsulta program,' there is no (order for implementation) yet but it's already in the discussion (between PhilHealth and DOH)," she said.
PhilHealth’s current Konsulta program allows members to avail of laboratory testing and doctor consultation for free which are provided by accredited hospitals and clinics.
The enhanced Konsulta program will include HIV testing and a referral system for treatment options managed by the DOH.
A report by DOH ranked the Northern Mindanao region as ninth in the country with people living with HIV (PLHIVs) with an estimated population of 5,100 last year.
Region 10's PLHIV population comprised around 3 percent of the estimated nationwide figures of 164,400.
Dr. Roland Sardan, DOH HIV Disease Prevention and Control Bureau program expert, said an additional 26,700 PLHIVs were recorded in 2023.
He said the majority of newly recorded PLHIVs were males who have sex with males, comprising 89 percent, while females accounted for around 8 percent.
He also noted that PLHIVs aged 15 to 24 years old make up 47 percent of the newly recorded HIV infections. (PNA)