HIV - from death sentence to chronic disease

A record 204 new  cases of HIV were reported last month. This is the highest number of cases ever, with approximately seven new cases a day. This is in contrast to one new case every three days in the year 2000. This unpredecented increase in incidence has led to the declaration of an AIDS epidemic last year.

The Philippines is one of only seven countries in the world to have seen a significant increase in cases in the last eight years. While most countries in the world are reporting steady or even decreasing case numbers, HIV infections in the Philippines are up more than 80%. While just over 7,000 cases have been reported since 1984, more than half of these were diagnosed only in the last four years.

And yet, not all news is bad. While no practical cure exists currently, modern treatment for HIV, termed highly active antiretroviral treatment, or HAART, has been shown to restore life expectancy if it is started early enough. On top of this finding, starting HAART early in HIV-infected patients decreases that person's ability to transmit the virus to others by 96%. This much better than 85% effectivity rate attributed to condoms, and is much acceptable from a social and religious standpoint. The recent approval of a PhilHealth package for HIV will ensure that medications for HIV remain free despite the end of foreign funding for treatment next year.

HIV takes 8 to 10 years to develop into a full-blown AIDS. Outcomes are much better if treatment is started before symptoms develop. The only way to tell if you have HIV prior to the development of AIDS is through blood test. So if you or your partner has engaged in risky sexual behavior in the last eight to ten years, get tested today.

Confidential testing is available at DOH accredited testing centers, including the Philippine General Hospital, for as little as P290. There is a comprehensive HIV/AIDS Clinic at PGH, manned by highly compentent infectious diseases specialits. WE can give you back your life, and you will protect your loved ones as well.



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