ILOILO City – The Western Visayas Medical Center (WVMC) in Mandurriao district will be the site of the Department of Health’s (DOH) Rapid HIV Diagnostics Laboratories (rHIVda) here.
Currently, there is only one confirmatory laboratory in the Philippines for HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) test – the San Lazaro Hospital STD-AIDS Central Cooperative Laboratory.
“rHIVda is a series of screening tests. There are two to three tests. If they turn out positive, there is no need to send the specimens to San Lazaro,” said Christine Mosqueda, assistant nurse coordinator of DOH- Region 6.
The turnaround time for confirmation sometimes takes a month to be released.
Mosqueda said the rHIVda would soon start its operation. WVMC already has trained some personnel and has equipment for this.
She, however, clarified that that confirmatory testing is not a requirement to start the antiretroviral therapy (ART) – the use of HIV medicines to treat HIV infection.
ART helps people with HIV live longer, healthier lives and reduces the risk of HIV transmission.
Once the person is tested to be “reactive”, he/she will be linked to his/her preferred treatment center to undergo assessment and baseline laboratories. Under the Enhanced Linkage Care, they can already start the treatment.
Aside from the WVMC, the Corazon Locsin Montelibano Memorial Regional Hospital in Bacolod City is also being eyed as rHIVda center.
Meantime, DOH data showed that during the first two months of 2019, Western Visayas had 163 new HIV cases. Of these new cases, 154 were males and nine were females.
Since the start of monitoring in 1986 until February 2019, the region had recorded 3,175 HIV cases with 303 deaths.
DOH data further showed that in February, one person was diagnosed with HIV every nine hours.
Of the cumulative data, 791 were from Iloilo City, 666 from Iloilo province, 554 from Negros Occidental, 506 from Bacolod City, 222 from Capiz, 209 from Aklan, 164 from Antique, and 63 from Guimaras.
Mosqueda said that while the highest detection rate came from Iloilo City, this did not mean they all got the infection from this highly urbanized city. (PNA/PN)