Cost of HIV Treatment in the Philippines

People living with HIV can avail of government support through Public Hospitals in the Philippines. San Lazaro Hospital provides FREE treatment for HIV patients; however, they list the person being treated as HIV positive. Thus, there is no privacy and your identity is open to public scrutiny.

Makati Med and Medical City have remarkable HIV wards but the you need big bucks to be treated in either one of these expensive places. HIV treatment in the Philippines still uses the older medication and not the newest recommended drug called Atripla.

A person living with HIV (PLHIV) will have to take medication throughout his lifetime. The initial treatment costs the government at least P7,920 a year per PLHIV. The onset of health complications means more medicines and a higher cost of at least P11,520 per year. When making a budget based on the forecast of the annual increase in cases, the health department adds a buffer or an extra allotment.

Not everyone who tests positive for HIV undergoes antiretroviral therapy, based on the recommendations of the World Health Organization. The main thrust in medication which means physicians focus on boosting the patients’ immune system to fight off infection while keeping the cost to a minimum.

Side Effects of HIV medication

The side effects vary, depending on the kind of drug. For Zidovudine and Lamivudine, these include diarrhea, nausea, dizziness, headache and muscle pain or myopathy and/or rashes such as the one on the left photo. If the patient requires further referral or management, the team members will facilitate such referrals. Laboratory tests, whose costs are borne by the PLHIV, are conducted on a case-to-case basis. The initial cost is less than P1,000, which includes a complete blood count, chest X-ray, and liver and kidney profile. The results will form the basis for the Antiretroviral Therapy. Unlike in Australia, HIV treatment in the Philippines is indeed not affordable for everyone as it is not 100% free.

Outpatient Treatment Package and Insurance

To help persons living with HIV with their medical costs, and to support the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goal of halting or reversing the incidence of HIV, the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (Philhealth) implemented the Outpatient HIV/AIDS Treatment Package.

Philhealth will reimburse up to P30,000 a year the cost of medicines, laboratory exams including the CD4 level determination test and the anti-retroviral drug toxicity monitoring test, and doctors’ professional fees of those confirmed to have HIV or AIDS who require treatment. Cost of Philhealth Insurance is P2,400 per patient per year.

The international community has committed to ending the AIDS epidemic as a public health threat by 2030. Interim targets have been established for 2020. If implemented, these fast-track actions by countries and by WHO will accelerate and intensify the HIV response in order for the “end of AIDS” to become a reality. ? (Information compiled by DM Crescini)

Updated: 2018-02-01 — 13:07:36