More HIV/Aids confirmatory labs opened in Davao City

Photo by Associated Press
Photo by Associated Press

A HEALTH official said they are hoping that more people will be encouraged to have themselves tested whether they carry the incurable human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV/Aids) as the city now has its accredited “confirmatory hubs” for blood specimens.

Dr. Jordana P. Ramiterre, head of Davao City’s Reproductive Health and Wellness Center (RHWC), told SunStar Davao in a Facebook live interview with The Talking Heads on Friday, May 21, 2021, that the Southern Philippines Medical Center has now started operating as a confirmatory laboratory last December 2020 for HIV/Aids specimens that were "reactive" in the conducted tests.

Prior to this, Ramiterre said blood specimens have to be sent to Manila, particularly at the San Lazaro Hospital, to undergo confirmatory tests.

"Wala na sila nagapadala sa Manila para mag-confirm kasi ang (We are no longer sending specimen for confirmatory testing in Manila because the) turnaround time that would be about one to two months, so maghulat gyud (so it is a long waiting period)," the RHWC head said.

She added that her office also started to be an additional confirmatory hub in the city starting February 2021.

Ramiterre said people who would undergo HIV testing must be screened before the actual conduct of the testing. After being tested and turned out "reactive," the specimen would undergo a confirmatory test.

The health official said since the city now has its own HIV confirmatory laboratories, test results will now be released in a short time.

Prior to the pandemic, she said their office conducts an average of 400 to 500 tests per month. Currently, it decreased to 200 tests.

From January to March 2021, they noted an average of 30 specimens that were "reactive" per month.

With the operation of two confirmatory labs, she said they are aiming to have more people tested.

To encourage more people, Ramiterre said they have been augmenting "peer navigators" who will reach out to a certain individual and explain the importance of having themselves tested.

Ramiterre said their budget has been increased for testing, other interventions, and additional manpower.

Amid the restrictions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, she said their office continues to expand its services.

"'Yung support (The support) for the HIV program is so great, that we could actually expand our services. Ang nahitabo lang man gud is na-bad timing lang kay tungod sa Covid[-19] (But because the Covid-19 pandemic happened, it was really bad timing)," the RHWC head said.

She said their health workers were supposed to have its community outreach programs, but their efforts were limited due to the prohibition of face-to-face activities.

Despite this, she said they utilized social media to widen their advocacies and made testing services inquiries accessible to the public.

According to the Department of Health-Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (DOH-Resu)-Davao Region data from 1993 to December 2020, Davao Region has recorded a total of 4,513 people living with HIV (PLHIV).

Based on the breakdown, Davao City has contributed the highest number of cases with 3,312, followed by Davao del Norte with 556, then Davao del Sur (242), Davao de Oro (200), Davao Oriental (141), and Davao Occidental (62).

Out of the total cases, 238 PLHIV succumbed to the virus.

According to the World Health Organization, HIV is an infection that attacks the body's immune system, specifically the white blood cells called CD4 cells. HIV destroys these CD4 cells, weakening a person's immunity against infections such as tuberculosis and some cancers.

Aids is the final stage of infection of HIV. It happens when the body's immune system is badly damaged because of the virus. However, not everyone with HIV develops into Aids.


No stories found.

Just in

No stories found.

Branded Content

No stories found.
SunStar Publishing Inc.