HIV Testing in the Philippines – What you need to know and what you must know.

HIV Testing in the Philippines – How to get tested.

The Department of Health now ranks Philippines as one of the countries that has the fastest growing HIV epidemic in the world with a prevalence rate of 5% nationwide. There is a 20-25% prevalence rate in Metro Manila and 15-20% prevalence rate in Cebu. This rate dwarfed the prevalence rate in South Africa, which has the largest population of HIV positive individuals in the world, with a mere 4.7%. Prevalence rate refers to the percentage of individual affected by the disease at specific time. With that in mind, we can say that right now, in a population of 110 Million Filipinos, there are 5.5 Million individuals currently living with HIV.

Mere 5 years ago when I started making this blog, The Philippines is a low prevalence country with less than 1% of the population affected by HIV. This rapidly growing epidemic if left uncontrolled will eventually make The Philippines at par with South Africa with 1 out 10 individuals affected with HIV. So what went wrong? As a nurse with 15 years experience handling HIV cases and working actively with HIV positive individuals, here are my personal conclusions, do take note that this conclusions are not even close with the official conclusion of the Department of Health on why HIV became a rapidly growing epidemic in The Philippines. I personally think that their conclusion is too traditional and not in touch with the modern activities of our youth.

  1. DOH says that the resistance of the Church to some forms of birth control is a contributing factor on the HIV epidemic right now. I say that HIV is most commonly seen in the young population. A population that makes their own decision and is rebellious to the church teachings. Though the Church could have cause some sort of contribution, I do believe that the lack of sex education in our school particularly to our youth is a more blameable culprit than the Church. Did you know that people ages 14 to 30 makes up the 95% of newly diagnosed HIV cases each month and the median age of affected individual for the last 5 years is just 28 years old?
  2. DOH says prostitution or sex for money is a contributing factor of the epidemic and should be eradicated. I say that, prostitution cannot be eradicated. Since the dawn of human civilization, there is prostitution and it is something that is very hard to control much less eradicated from our society. What DOH can do is to provide an ID system and free monthly checkup to our sex workers to protect them as well as the people that they serve. This will also encourage the client to only have sex with a “clean” sex worker. This will also further educate our sex workers on proper ways of protecting themselves from different sexually transmitted infection as well as unwanted pregnancy.
  3. DOH says that persons under 18 who wants to test for HIV should require parental consent. I say that, I have clients with HIV at age 13, 14, 15… and that is because of failure in health promotion. The accessibility of casual sex thru apps like Grindr and other dating apps makes it very easy for 2 complete strangers to have sex consensually and thus, spreading the virus like wildfire to our young and techie population. These individuals would never dare to ask their parents permission to go with them and get tested, our culture against premarital sex and our bigotry against the LGBT makes it impossible to do so. HIV testing should be accessible to ANYONE at ANY AGE on their own volition.

THE CURRENT STATISTICS (2017)

It is estimated that there 1,000 reported HIV cases per month since the 6 months of 2016. At that rate, we can assume that there are 30 to 50 reported HIV cases daily. This does not include unreported cases. Unreported cases are HIV positive individuals who do not know they are infected. The epidemic growth rate is about 200% per year. This means that if not controlled, we could see a tenfold growth of HIV cases (300-500 cases per day) within the next 10 years.

– DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH

HOW TO GET TESTED: HIV TESTING IN THE PHILIPPINES

One of the most important thing to do to prevent transmission is knowing your status. HIV is a very controllable disease as long as it is detected early and has not yet done major damage to your organs most specially the Liver, Kidneys and the Brain. There are many ways of getting tested for HIV in the Philippines. We will discuss each of them, one by one including their advantages and disadvantages.

I. Hospitals

Testing by going to hospitals is one of the most common means of getting tested. There are 5 hospitals in our country that specializes with HIV counseling and testing as well as referrals in case you tested positive and needing further treatment. In no particular order: RITM, San Lazaro Hospital, St. Lukes Medical Center both in Quezon City and Global, Makati Medical Center and Medical City in Ortigas. Do take note that the cost for HIV testing is around 1,100 to 3,800 in the private hospitals I mentioned.

PROS: If done correctly, results are very accurate. This is also the only results acknowledged in various employment and immigration requirements.

CONS: There is always an issue with regards to privacy and confidentiality getting tested  in any hospital. Though privacy is protected by our health care professionals, there are many incidents of information leakage caused by poor protocol with regards to transfer of information such as students getting free access to medical records without permission or a slip of tongue during a conversation of one of the member of the health care team handling the HIV case. Hacking is another risk when it comes to electronically stored medical information and records of medication being dispensed from the Pharmacy and to whom.

When it comes to public hospitals, though uncommon, there are recorded cases of results being switched between patients. It is not unheard of that a certain person tested positive though in reality, he is negative simply because a specimen sample was incorrectly labeled with his name. Lapse in judgment and concentration of our overworked and underpaid medical professionals is the main culprit in most cases.

II. Free tests done by Volunteer groups

HIV Test Philippines
We have friendly, volunteer groups that do testing for free. You can call them and schedule a visit and let them know that you are interested in getting tested.

LOVE YOURSELF MALATE HUB
#1850 Leon Guinto Street, Malate, Manila.
Contact: 353-8922

LOVE YOURSELF ANGLO HUB
Unit 5, 3/F, Anglo Building, #715-A Shaw Boulevard, Mandaluyong City.
Contact: 0915-366-5683

PROS: Free and they offer counselling as well. Staff are very friendly, professional and trained.

CONS: Privacy and result confidentiality are concerns when it comes to free and public testing. Though trained, innocent conversations could lead to information leakage both consciously and unconsciously. There are cases wherein a Volunteer saw a recently positive patient in the mall and told his friend that “That guys just tested positive yesterday.”

III. HIV testing kits

HIV Testing in The Philippines Home Kit

Advanced home test kits like Fujibio HIV kit has 99.9% accuracy similar to that of Hospital based testing.

Testing kits are widely used as the main method in HIV detection in some hospitals and hygiene clinic. All free testing done by volunteer groups uses HIV test kits. HIV testing hubs also uses HIV kits. Medical missions and workplace testing will usually use HIV testing kits. They are easy to use with result at 99.9% accuracy seen in mere 10 minutes. The common brands in The Philippines are Fujibio and SD Bio. Fujibio is Japanese made while SD Bio is Korean made. Both should give an accurate result with 99.9% certainty similar to that of hospital based testing. Only Fujibio HIV test kits are the only one you can buy online.

PROS: Very easy to use and results are very accurate. I would personally recommend testing using test kits first as to give you an accurate idea of your status before going to the hospital. That way, you will know that you will test negative or positive in advance privately. It is also very convenient and you are assure that only you will know the result. Fujibio hiv test kits being sold online also offers free counseling.

CONS: Since the person that bought the kit will usually test himself or herself, Anxiety could lead to testing delay. Some people will contemplate for weeks before using the test kits and then eventually forgets that he bought one.

 


A positive HIV test using an HIV Home Test Kit

I TESTED POSITIVE. WHAT SHOULD I DO NEXT?

If you used any of my recommendations above in getting tested and you tested positive, DO NOT DESPAIR. HIV is a very controllable disease and achievement of undetectable viral load is the treatment goal. Living a normal life is very possible with HIV as long as treatment is started and adherence to the treatment regimen is established. We have 2 options in getting treated.

Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM)

RITM is the premiere and the leading facility in The Philippines when it comes to antiretroviral drug distribution as well as treatment for HIV patients. This should be your first choice in obtaining confirmatory results and further treatment if the initial testing result was positive. RITM is more specialized than San Lazaro and could deal with serious HIV related complications such as Mycobacterium Bovis infection as well as cryptococcal infection of the brain.

For commuters:

  1. Take a bus or van going to Alabang.
  2. Look for the Muntinlupa Fire Station.
  3. Ride a UV express/van or a multicab with a Filinvest Ikot route in front of the Orange Building and Festival Mall just besides the fire station.
  4. Tell the driver to drop you off at RITM.

Total estimated fare cost: 60 -120 Pesos.
For private vehicles:

  1. Proceed to SLEX.
  2. Exit at Filinvest.
  3. Turn left after the toll gate.
  4. RITM is just at the right side.

Process:

  1. Ensure that you arrive before 7:00 A.M for baseline testing. You will not be entertained if you arrive late.
  2. Once inside, simply proceed to the ARG clinic.
  3. Register.
  4. Proceed to the cashier and pay 150 pesos for the orange patient sheet.
  5. Proceed to ARG and await for your name to be called.
  6. CD4 testing for positive patients are available after 1:00 P.M except during Wednesdays and weekends.
  7. Distribution of antiretroviral drugs are given monthly. Maximum supply for 1 month is dispensed at the given schedule.
  8. Drugs should be free and is subsidized by Philhealth.

The Thai Red Cross Research Center

If you have the budget of about 25,000 pesos every 6 months, a possible alternative is getting tested and treated in Thailand. The Thai Red Cross Aids Research Center is one of the most advanced HIV treatment facility in the world eclipsing RITM. They use the most advanced drugs that you need to only take once a day as compared to a cocktail of 2-3 medications that the Philippines still uses. Blood works such as CD4 testing is around 500 pesos and results are ready in 3 days. The medications used in TRCARC are the best medications available and is very cheap, it will only cost you about 10,000 pesos for your 6 months supply. This same medication costs about 80,000 per 1 month supply in the United States. It is cheaper in Thailand because it is subsidized by the Thai Government. You can only purchase 6 month supply of the drug as they will require you to come back every 6 months for monitoring your health status. This advanced medication is only taken once a day and has very little side effects. They look like Centrum tablets.

HIV Thailand Treatment

The Thai Red Cross AIDS Research Centre
Address: 104 Ratchadamri Road, Pathumwan, Bangkok 10330
(5 minutes’ walk from the Rajdamri BTS station and Silom MRT station)

Tel. (+66) 2-256-4107-9
Fax: (+66) 2-254-7577
Website: www.trcarc.org

DISCLAIMER: We here at HIV Test Philippines testify that opinions we expressed above are based on what we believe are facts. We are not paid by nor endorsing RITM, TRCARC and other hospitals or products mentoined above. Information above are based on what we think are best with regards to getting tested in the Philippines. Contributors here at HIV Test Philippines are HIV Counselors and are working actively for more than 5-15 years in HIV clinics in the Philippines.

Comments

  1. marvin says:

    last year july 2018 threesome po kami then pag tapos nun nag ka roon ako ng gonorhea which is nagamot ko naman ang mali lang self medication then nitong july namamantal yong katawan ko pero hindi ko alam kung ano ang dahilan tapos pumasok na sa isip ko na baka infected ako bali sa sobrang pagaalala nag pa test ako ng oct 22 at nag nonreactive ako for just 15 mins malalaman po ba if positive ka legit po ba yon?

    • Harot says:

      Describe the test that you took.

      • marvin says:

        kinuhanan po ako ng dugo then after 25 mins ata nonreactive yong result

        • Harot says:

          I wonder what kind of test was that. You should have received a sealed paper that described / mentioned the type of test made.

          • marvin says:

            HIV screening test, sypphilis screening test, hbsAg
            HIV SCREENING TEST KIT SD BIOLINE HIV 42 3.O
            SYPHILIS SCREENING TEST KIT/REAGENT USED SD BIOLINE SY 3.0
            HbsAg kit/reagent used SD BIOLINE HBSAG WB MULTI.
            PAKI INTINDI NALANG PO GINAYA KO LANG EI ANO PO SA TINGIN NYO?

  2. Raven says:

    is it ok to be tested if you have menstruation?

  3. Nick says:

    Anu ano yung early signs sa ating penis and sa ating katawan? Pano mo malalaman na infected ka?

  4. Jerry gaerlan says:

    San po part ng quezon city may free hiv test.thank you

  5. Joy cadiente says:

    Hello po,, ask ko lng po, my maliliit na pula po sa dila ko, malapit sa lalamunan, anu po kya iyon, nasa abroad po kc ako kya di ako mkapagpatest, pero 3mons ago nkipagsex po ako at nagBJ,, thanks po sa answer,, kinakabahan lang po kase ako

    • Harot says:

      Dapat ka talagang kabahan if there was unprotected vaginal penetration. That spot in your tongue doesn’t say anything about HIV infection.

  6. Lyndonne says:

    hi guys, ako yung gumamit ng fujibio dalwang kit ginamit ko parehas positive.

    bali sa sobrang kaba ko last week lang ako nag pa test sa RITM and nag text sila kaninang around 4 pm na positive daw po talga ako.

    so ang masasabi ko po ay accurate ang fujibio. mag test po tayo ang sabi ng doktor maagang treatment means less complication, naliwanagan ako dahil tinawagan nila ako for counselling and naka schedule ako mamaya para sa 8 am lab works kaya gising na ako ngayon maaga palang preparing.

    masaya ako actually dahil na assured nila ako na magiging normal ang lahat, papasalamat ako unang una sa community dito na nag palakas ng loob ko mag pa test. sa fujibio dahil accesible ang accurate ng testing nyo at kay dr. perez and nurse angie sa pag asikaso sakin. Isang tablet lang ang iinumin ko sa isang araw, yun lang ang gamot at magiging undetectable na raw ako after 2 weeks lang.

    salamat ulet guys.

  7. First Timer says:

    Hi! Quick question po. I just had an unprotected anal sex (November 11 2019) with someone I just met on Grinder and that was my very first anal sex. Now my question is in case he is positive with the said virus can that one interaction infect me right away? and by the way he didn’t cum inside me. Thanks in advance for the answer.

  8. Coney m lalusin says:

    Need help pls reply

  9. Coney m lalusin says:

    San makka order po ng kit

  10. Mr Window says:

    Hi Po ask ko lang po if gumagamit po ng 4th gen si Hi-precision? Ilang weeks ung window period nia Thanks.

  11. Mr.Anxious says:

    Sa kaparaningan ko. Tested 4 times already:
    Nov 2 – NR fujibo
    Nov 6 – NR fujibo
    Nov 8 – NR Testing hub (Sd bio)
    Nov 9 – NR Loveyourself white house

    Exposure (this year):
    May 6 – unprotected vaginal
    July 20- unprotected inoral ako ng girl

    Salamat sa Dios at NR. utang ko talaga sa Kanya apng pangalawang chance na ito. Sa mga natatakot, pa test na kayo guys, pwede sa kit muna para atleast may baseline kayo, then sa mga testing hub para may counseling.

  12. Jj says:

    Mahal po ba ang gamot ng HIV?

    • Mr.Anxious says:

      Huwag mo muna isipin ang gamot po.pa test na po muna kayo,..but anyway libre po ang gamot basta may philhealth ka.pati testing libre din

  13. Paranoid101 says:

    After po ba makipagsex ng unsafe sa total stranger pwede magpacheck ? Madadiagnose po ba agad iyon?

    • Harot says:

      Pwedeng pwede magpatest – with or without sex, safe or unsafe. Pwedeng magpatest kahit walang dahilan.

    • Harot says:

      Yes, in some clinics, it takes only under 2 hours to get the results.

      • Paranoid101 says:

        What if yesterday nkipagsex sa stranger tas positive pala sya. Nagworry ka kaya kinabukasan nagpacheck up ka madadiagnose ba agad un? And is it accurate since the incedent is just one day?

        • Lloyd says:

          No..you have to wait for 6 weeks then repeat at 12 weeks kung yun lang exposure mo pero kung may past exposure kapa then get tested right away for ur baseline status then ulet ka nalng after 12 weeks.

    • Marx says:

      I heard sa TV… may “PEP” pill nadaw.. something like that… parang post sex anti hiv medication… cguro valid for 24-48hrs… pls research or go to loveyourself…

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