WHO, DOH to introduce add’l anti-HIV method next year
MANILA, Dec 4 (PNA) — The World Health Organization (WHO) will be partnering with the Department of Health (DOH) next year to introduce an additional method for the prevention and control of the upward trend of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in the country.
According to WHO Country Representative to the Philippines Dr. Gundo Weiler, the latest added preventive method — Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) will be introduce through a partnership with DOH and a non-governmental organization, Love Yourself.
Weiler said that initially at least 200 people will be targeted for PrEP which later on he hopes to be considered to be put into use nationwide along with other existing strategies.
“We are facing a situation that is very alarming in terms of infections. So we need to look into methods that are available to prevent infections from happening, traditional methods as well as additional innovative methods,” said Weiler.
To illustrate briefly, he explained that PrEP is a new approach designed for people who by experienced knew that they can be exposed frequently — because they are sexually active, and maybe they (these people) use condom but not always or condom has ruptured.
“So that those people who take on regular basis everyday–one pill a day which is anti-retroviral treatment (ART) medicine so that they have substance in the blood and when they are exposed to the virus (HIV), immediately, the virus (HIV) will be destroyed and they will not develop an infection… In this way, they protect themselves by taking tablets before the exposure (or sexual act),” the WHO official explained.
He said the new approach which WHO recommends can help a lot in the prevention methods for those particularly at risk.
He, however, clarified that the approaches already in placed should still be used.
“So its not (meant) to replace what has been done before (existing) or not to replace condoms, they should still be use, and that’s the best method… but this one should be additional protection for those who by experience know that condom alone does not protect them 100 percent.
The existing approach being recommended by DOH are ‘ABC strategies’ — Abstinence from sex, Be faithful to one partner and Condom used.
The WHO said that it has been tested in many countries as well.
PrEP is an HIV medicine that is the combination of “tenofovir and emtricitabine”, and must be taken daily in order to lower the chances of contracting HIV.
In the latest HIV/AIDS Registry of the Philippines (HARP), of the 38,114 HIV cases reported from January 1984 to October 2016, a total of 28,947 belong to the male-having-sex-with-male (MSMs) category, thereby making it the predominant mode of transmission.
The figure includes the 17,650 acquired thru homosexual contacts, and 11,297 transmitted via bisexual contacts, said the HARP.
HIV can be transmitted through unprotected sexual contacts, needle sharing of those involved in injecting drug use and from mother to child transmission.
According to DOH, they are intensifying the conduct of testing in the country as well as encouraging the people at risk to seek testing which are all confidential.
There are different testing centers that are being made available by DOH in different locations in the country.
The testing are done along with counselling.
By counselling, the DOH together with partners are giving hope to those who will be tested and had been tested positive to not lose hope as there are medicines provided to control the viral load of HIV.
The medicines provided for free are anti-retroviral treatment (ART) medication which should be taken on regular basis (everyday) continuously.
In addition, taking of ART should not be stopped so that the person will not develop “resistant” from the drug.
By putting under control the viral load of HIV, the person who was positive with HIV can still continue with his/her life productively and will not be likely hit by opportunistic infections.
Opportunistic infection occurs as the immune system of the person positive with HIV get weak due to the infection.
The way to bring back the strengthening of immune system is through ART regular taking added with observance of healthy lifestyle.
In contrast, those who do not know that they are positive and not tested with HIV can not actually avail the said ARTs as they continue in hiding and denying themselves of the treatment will actually be in the losing end.
Having no treatment at all will then lead them to the condition of full-blown AIDS which they want to prevent in this time were availability of ART in the country is giving hope to the people infected with HIV.
It is therefore important to know one’s status and follow the recommendation to avail the testing which WHO is also pushing for.
“It is only when you get the test, that you can get the treatment,” the WHO official added as he cited the importance of testing on the fight for HIV. (PNA)