Suspension of Disbelief

Posts Tagged ‘world aids day

PhilHealth benefit package for people with HIV under review

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VERA Files | 01 December 2015

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PhilHealth HIV - ARV Bottles

ARV Bottles

As the country commemorates World AIDS Day today (December 1), the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) is set to begin a formal review of its benefit package for people living with HIV (human immunodeficiency virus), or PLHIVs.

“We are currently reviewing the Outpatient HIV/AIDS Treatment (OHAT) Package, the implementation of it in treatment hubs, and the current rates, and if patients have questions, we can discuss it with them.  PhilHealth is going to conduct a formal review of benefits, this year up to next year, to address these issues,” Dr. Mary Antoinette Remonte, Medical Specialist II and Millennium Development Goals Benefit Products Team Head of PhilHealth, said.

PLHIVs in the country, who are members of PhilHealth, are entitled to several benefits under the OHAT Package. Every year, a member is entitled to P30,000, or P7,500 every quarter, worth of treatment, care and support (TCS) services from his chosen PhilHealth accredited treatment hub.

Also included in the OHAT Package are the following: drugs and medicines; laboratory examinations based on the specific treatment guideline, including Cluster of Differentiation 4 (CD4) level determination test, viral load (if warranted), test for monitoring antiretroviral (ARV) drug toxicity; and professional fees of providers.

Hospitalization coverage from PhilHealth ranges from P11,000-20,000, depending on the case. Any amount that will exceed the allotted budget will be charged to the patient.

DOH National Epidemiology Center

DOH National Epidemiology Center

However, PhilHealth has received  reports from several PLHIVs that the TCS services they get from their treatment hubs are different compared to other TCS providers.

“It has come to our attention that some treatment hubs charge for some laboratory tests, even after the release of the OHAT Package circular. Also, according to the guidelines set by the DOH (Department of Health), viral load testing is also covered by the OHAT Package,” Dr. Remonte said.

In the case of Paolo (not his real name), a person living with HIV  (PLHIV) from Manila who is receiving HIV TCS at San Lazaro Hospital, he was made to pay for the viral load test even if he is a PhilHealth member.

Sadly, if you are a PHLIV who had been charged for a particular TCS service, that is supposedly covered by the OHAT Package, “you cannot be reimbursed for what you spent, because the reimbursement goes directly to the facility. This is why it is important for a facility to properly maximize the reimbursement claims so they can help the patients,” Dr. Remonte added.

But the practice in other treatment hubs, like in the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), is different. PLHIVs are able to receive free baseline laboratory tests and CD4 count.

“The OHAT Package does not cover baseline tests yet, but due to good financial management, we can provide them for free to new patients. And once they start their treatment, they would be eligible for OHAT,” Dr. Rosanna Ditangco, research chief head at RITM-ARG, explained.

For patients who are already starting their antiretroviral therapy, “we provide free CD4 and CBC tests. Yearly, during their anniversary, we provide free CD4, CBC, blood chemistry – depending on what ARV they are taking, and viral load. And if the doctor suspects treatment failure, a free viral load test will be done anytime plus HIV drug resistance testing,” Dr. Ditangco added.

That has been the system of RITM ever since PhilHealth released their OHAT Package circular.

“The HIV treatment regimen is standard for all treatment hubs, but the cost of laboratories are not the same. The practice is also different on how they utilize the PhilHealth reimbursement and this is because of administrative problems in the treatment hubs,” Dr. Remonte explained.

She also reminded PLHIVs to check if their treatment hubs were filing claims and if they find out that there were lapses, they could write a complaint, anonymously if they are worried about confidentiality.

For PLHIVs who want to avail of the benefits of the OHAT Package, they should be PhilHealth members with three to six months contributions; submit a waiver allowing PhilHealth to look in to their records; and provide a copy of their HIV confirmatory result and treatment regimen.

There are currently 22 accredited hospitals all over the country that are designated treatment hubs for PLHIVs. There are also several satellite clinics that provide TCS services for HIV management.

Like other agencies and institutions, PhilHealth is increasing its efforts to help manage the detrimental effects of HIV.

The Philippines is one of the countries where the prevalence of HIV has been increasing.

On the other hand, statistics from other countries show that HIV is already decreasing, or at zero growth.

As of August this year, there were already more than 5,000 reported HIV cases in the Philippines, according to the DOH. This number is 17% higher compared to the same period last year.

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(VERA Files is put out by veteran journalists taking a deeper look at current issues. Vera is Latin for “true.”

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Project Red Ribbon: Responding to a growing need

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Outrage Magazine | 04 December 2013

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Project Red Ribbon logoIt started as a blog in 2011. with the author calling the Website Living with HIV in the Philippines.  And its first article, I Have AIDS!, told the story of Pozzie Pinoy, the HIV-positive advocate behind the blog, where he narrated how he overcame this ordeal when he was diagnosed with bilateral pneumonia and was tested HIV-positive.

And so this also served as the foreword of the Website, a precursor of what the readers should expect in its posts.

“The intention of the blog is to give information about HIV and AIDS in the Philippines. It aims to provide information about the importance of prevention, early detection through HIV testing, and treatment of HIV and opportunistic infections. It provides a venue for social interactions and discussions about the disease,” Pozzie Pinoy said.

In its two years run, Living with HIV in the Philippines has served as a go-to of some sort for many, responding to questions and inquiries from its readers with the help of Dr. Rosanna Ditangco of the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM).

The blog now also serves as a channel in promoting current events and trainings for the benefit of the general population.

Eventually, Pozzie Pinoy also started The Love Fund, an attempt to provide indigent people living with HIV (PLHIV) with medical assistance for laboratory tests and treatment.

Eventually, too, with the continuing success of Living with HIV in the PhilippinesPozzie Pinoystarted other efforts for the benefit of PLHIV – particularly, Project Red Ribbon.

“The blog became an area for us to answer questions, but we felt the need to establish other programs that can help and support PLHIV. And since there’s no care management program in the Philippines, we established the Red Ribbon,” Pozzie Pinoy explained.

Project Red Ribbon is a care management program that links advocacy groups with individuals to assist them to obtain discreet HIV testing, while also conducting awareness programs, and most importantly, provide care and support for PLHIV.

“What we do in Red Ribbon is we deal with PLHIV directly. We have support groups, we have outreach programs, online support group talks where PLHIVs gather to share their stories and their journey with each other,” Pozzie Pinoy said.

Compared to other organizations that have efforts for PLHIV, Project Red Ribbon “focuses solely on supporting PLHIV.” Notably, “99% of our managers are PLHIVs, so we know our concerns, we know our needs, we know our problems. We can support other PLHIVs properly,” Pozzie Pinoy stressed.

Project Red Ribbon also organizes: monthly outreach programs – where they visit different treatment hubs to educate new PLHIVs and give inspirational advice; monthly support group gathering; sportsfest; and outings, among others.

And as Pozzie Pinoy said many times over on his Website and during his talks: “No PLHIV is alone with his or her struggle with HIV! We are all in this together!”

For more information, visit http://pozziepinoy.blogspot.com/ or email Pozzie Pinoy at pozziepinoy@yahoo.com.

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(Outrage Magazine remains the only publication for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in the Philippines.)

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LGBT Pride Month—more than just about street parties

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VERA Files and Yahoo Philippines | 13 June 2013

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Festive street parties, parades and marches usually mark the annual celebration of Pride month in June by the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community in the country and elsewhere.

“But Pride Month is not just about parties,” Michael David Tan, executive director of Bahaghari Center for LGBT Research, Education and Advocacy, stressed. “What we want to do in Bahaghari Center, or in the LGBT community in the Philippines in general, is to change [public] perception and [instead] look at the conditions and situations of the LGBTs more closely.”

In recent years, LGBT organizations have resorted mainly to plain street parties to celebrate Pride Month, which do not fully convey the real meaning and message of such celebrations in the country.

This year, Bahaghari Center and the Progressive Organization of Gays in the Philippines (ProGay Philippines) aim to promote a more thorough LGBT acceptance and education in the coming Pride celebrations.

“We want everyone to know that LGBTs are not just about being happy-go-lucky or the stereotyped ‘softies’; we are just like everyone else [entitled to equal rights],” Tan said.

The LGBT community is holding the annual Pride celebrations to let everyone know that they are asking for equal rights (not special rights) in their daily activities— in schools, offices, public establishments like malls and restaurants, and many other places.

For instance, early this year a high school teacher in a province brought her girlfriend to one of the weekend school activities. After a couple of days, the principal asked the teacher to submit her resignation, saying that the school decided to revoke her employment for fear that she might teach the students the wrong kind of lifestyle.

Last year, Dr. Andres Gumban, 63 years old from Bacolod City, was bashed and then stabbed to death 35 times by two male sex workers. The worst thing about the crime was the recording of the incident by one of the teen suspects via his mobile phone, which eventually spread online.

The police said the suspects admitted they were drug users and that they had bad experiences with gays, which eventually turned them into gay haters.

“People need to know about these things, that LGBT killings and everyday discrimination have been happening in our country,” Oscar Atadero of ProGay Philippines said. “We (LGBT organizations) have been monitoring these kinds of instances, and yes there is really indifference when it comes to the treatment of the LGBT community.”

Pride Month is usually the only time when LGBT killings, discrimination and other issues are given enough attention. And so in the month of June, LGBT organizations in the country hold awareness programs in different locations, organize small festivals, and other related activities, which aim to empower LGBTs aside from merely showcasing their talents.

“We’re planning to have more extensive programs and festivals in the coming years, so as when Pride Month comes, people from all over the country can really learn and experience how diverse the LGBT community in the Philippines is,” Tan added.

The month of June was chosen by the LGBT community as their Pride Month because of the series of violent activities against the gay community, leading to demonstrations against the police that happened in 1969 at the Stonewall Inn in New York City, USA.

In the Philippines, the first Pride celebration was held on June 26, 1994, coinciding with the 25th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. LGBTs, led by ProGay Philippines and the Metropolitan Community Church Manila (MCC), marched and paraded along EDSA to Quezon Memorial Circle in Quezon City.

Through the years, the celebration of Pride Month in the country has evolved from just holding marches and parades within Metro Manila or in several provinces, to a more dynamic celebration involving improved partnerships with the local government (such as Quezon City and Makati). Thus, the celebration is becoming more and more effective in advancing the equality movement.

In 2003, organizers of the Philippine Pride events decided to move the annual Pride March from June to December to mark other significant events, namely: World AIDS Day (Dec. 1), Philippine National Lesbian Day (Dec. 8) and International Human Rights Day (December 10).

 

(VERA Files is put out by veteran journalists taking a deeper look at current issues. Vera is Latin for “true.”)

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World AIDS Day Ginunita

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Written by Patrick King Pascual

December 6, 2010 at 7:21 am

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