The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) is urging patients infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) to avail of outpatient treatments.
In a statement, PhilHealth acting president and chief executive officer Emmanuel Ledesma Jr. said PhilHealth’s Outpatient HIV/AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) package covers up to P30,000 per year or P7,500 per quarter.
The package is part of the PhilHealth’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)-related benefits.
“This includes payment for medicine, laboratory examinations, and professional feels of providers of HIV/AIDS-related cases that have been tested in Rapid HIV Diagnostic Algorithm facilities, STD/AIDS Central Cooperative Laboratory or the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine,” he said.
Ledesma said PhilHealth has paid 15,191 claims from HIV treatment facilities, equivalent to 0.11 percent of the total claims count for the year, amounting to P108,463,468 as of the end of 2022.
As of February of this year, there are 103 government and 44 private HIV treatment facilities accredited by PhilHealth for outpatient HIV/AIDS treatment.
Ledesma reminded that while outpatient HIV/AIDS treatments are covered by PhilHealth, prevention is “still the best medicine” as there is still currently no cure for the disease.
“Prevention is crucial to help slow the spread of the virus and reduce the risk of transmission thereby protecting individuals from infection and ultimately saving lives,” he added.
Based on the Department of Health (DOH) 2022 HIV/AIDS registry, a total of 14,970 new HIV cases were detected from January to December last year.
The 2022 figure is 2,631 cases more than the 12,339 cases recorded in 2021, equivalent to a 21 percent increase.
The DOH also reported that 79 Filipinos aged 10 to 19 years and seven children below 10 were diagnosed with HIV in January 2023 alone.
DOH officer-in-charge Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire earlier said accessibility to social media could be one of the factors for the increase in HIV cases among adolescents and teenagers.
Since sexual contact is the main mode of transmission of HIV among cases, Vergeire reminded adolescents and teenagers that such behavior could lead to diseases.
She likewise assured that acquiring HIV is no longer a “death sentence” as medicines that can prolong the patient’s life are already available.