Research lab suspends HIV services to focus on Covid-19 response

THE Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) on Wednesday, April 8, announced the suspension of its services for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (Aids) patients to focus on conducting diagnostic tests for the novel coronavirus.

"Some laboratory and hospital services are temporarily put on hold, such as viral load testing and HIV drug resistance testing," the RITM said in an advisory.

"RITM is refocusing its available manpower and resources to augment the needs of the ongoing Covid-19 response," it added.

The number of people living with HIV and Aids in the country has continued to rise.

Based on the October-December 2019 HIV/Aids Registry of the Philippines (HARP) report, the final quarter of the year saw a total of 3,029 new HIV cases.

Of the new HIV cases, there were 474 people with advanced HIV infection or Aids.

A total of 116 deaths were also reported in the last quarter of 2019.

Sexual contact remained the predominant mode of transmission with 2,960 (98 percent).

A total of 1,878 acquired HIV due to male to male sex, followed by 709 due to sex with males and females, while 373 due to male to female sex.

Forty cases were due to sharing of infected needles, and six were via mother to child transmission. No data was available for 23 others.

For the entire 2019, the country saw 12,778 new HIV cases, including 2,167 Aids cases, and 679 deaths.

Since 1984, there have been a total of 74,807 HIV cases, including 9,265 Aids cases, and 3,730 deaths. (HDT/SunStar Philippines)


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