HIV Cases in the Philippines Surged High in April 2013

I feel bad every time when HIV cases are reported and emphasized. Let’s be responsible and save lives.
Protect yourselves. This is not the time be complacent with intimate activities.

No condom No entry.

Re-Thinking AIDS in the Philippines

HIV cases in the Philippines surged high in April 2013 as reflected in the April 2013 HIV and AIDS Registry of the National Epidemiology Center of the Department of Health (DOH). A total of 388 new HIV cases for the said month alone was reported to the DOH, adding to 13,179 total cases since 1984. April 2013 cases is 67% higher comparing to last year’s registry (233 persons).

April 2013 Philippine HIV Registry

Sexual contact (356 persons), particularly among men who have sex with men (287 males), topped the most reported mode of transmission for this month followed by injecting drug users (32 persons). Young people ages 15-24 are comprised of 119 cases, making it to 414 youth for the first four months of 2013.

It is not surprising that HIV cases reflected in the HIV Registry keep on  increasing for the past years based on the following factors:

1. Access to free HIV testing…

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Latest CD4 count

Visited Research Institute for Tropical Medicine last Friday for medicine refill and CD4 testing. Been a long time since I last went here. I came in very early at 6:45 am for CD4 testing. They recently changed the cut-off time for blood extraction to 7am-8am only. At this early, I’m already on the 9th spot from the line. The process changed and improved a bit from the previous topsy turvy scene. Their process is more effective but less efficient. It took me roughly 8 hours waiting in vain. CD4 results are released within the day, in most cases 11am, after lunch otherwise. Since I am about to refill, they told me to wait for the doctor since she will be the one providing the prescription. You will encounter a very long and pain-on-the-ass wait. I’m gonna to another post about the crucial wait-for-results experience.


So far, I’m thankful for the result. In time for Thanksgiving day. 

From 406 units of CD4, it went up to 710 units.

This, perhaps, is one of the reason to be happy. Somehow, still thankful.

And oh by the way, I’m trying to resurface again. Struggling, but trying.

Follow me on Twitter @tcghiv

Four Hundred Six

Just like what my previous post was described – deteriorating, so as my new CD4 count. Last week I went to RITM to have my CD4 count and refill of meds. It was quite a busy day for them as the clinic was bombarded by old timers and new patients. They have a new system for those who are due for their CD4 test – to have it scheduled prior to you arrival at the clinic. I have heard this from a friend of mine and immediately sent Ate Beth an  SMS to have my appointment o more than a week before my preferred date.
Come that day, I called in sick to my boss and went straight to Alabang. My home is quite near RITM so there was no need to struggle for an early morning call time – they have a cutoff time for the test which is 10am. I arrived like 9am and it was crowded. They have asked if I had my appointment BUT they cannot seem to find my name on that piece of ‘office desk calendar’ appointment sheet. Just to find out that they mistakenly wrote my code as R11-XXX which should have been R10-XXX, ayaw pa nila ko payagan to take the test kasi wala naman daw sa list yung ‘code’ ko. I insisted that I have called a week before this day and they admit they commit an error. So the mere difference of R10 versus R11 would have put my leave into waste.
This was also the day when I saw an old friend of mine. But I did not pay attention too much to him as he was aslo busy with his anniverasry exams.
My tests were done and I’m now waiting for the prescription of my ARV’s. When this guy came in almost 10am, just before the cutoff time for CD4 testing, he didn’t know about the appointment and schedule setting prior to the test but after  a while they allowed him to take the CD4 test. I was just a mere observer that time and only one thing came into my mind: I have scheduled myself a week before this day to have my CD4 test and almost on the brink of not taking it and wasting my leave to nothing when this guy came on an instant and he was allowed to take it? That was just too unfair. This guy was like a BFF to them. Ok fine, I now know where should I place myself.

Nonetheless, I was still grateful that I had the test and they gave my 3-month supply of ARVs – STILL. Contrart to what others have said a week before that they now only give 1 month supply.
That day was really a frustration, my first time to experience after 2 years of going to them. Everytime I go to RITM, I always wanted to stay even after my appointment as I wanted to mingle with other patients and staffs, now It’s like the opposite. I wanna get myself out the minute I finish my deal. I just hope this won’t take too long to change.
Anyway, my CD4 streamline is now:

1st: 282
2nd: 610
3rd: 608
4th: 406

1st viral load: 110,000+
2nd viral load: 86
The results were just texted to me, so I don’t have any validity whether this tremendous drop is real or not. I’m just worrying why in the world this happened? Am I too stressed and depressed or my ARV’s are no longer working? With the viral load still *NOT* undetectable after taking the potent Efavirenz for almost 2 years… I’m just worrying to much.

Deteriorating

I went to RITM last Friday to have my CD4 count and refill of meds. Nothing much new with them aside from the topsy-turvy process they are implementing. They don’t have the right and proper system in accommodating patients, they even proposed a ‘scheduled’ trip when requesting for CD4 test, which is not really effective. They also implemented a number system, just like those of a bank. When the number of patients are at large with the addition of the staff, the small ARG clinic is not at a crowd. There are also some staffs that are quite new to me.
I’m just wondering if ‘charts’ are confidential to an extent that even the owner can’t view it? I’m trying to view my chart for the results of my past tests when this new staff said ‘hindi pwede tingnan’ – ‘you can’t see those’. I was like… Hello that’s my chart and I think I have the right to view it? I’m not really sure if there’s an unsaid rule about a patient can’t check his chart thingy. I f that’s the case, I just hope that only medical professionals see it and if the rule is exercised it is consistent. Staffs are now masungit and aburido which is bit annoying.

*I totally understand this but I just hope na *only* certified medical staffs like nurses and doctors can view it, not the volunteers na hindi ko naman din kilala so start with.*

One thing I noticed was their file management system. Their system is really prone to file and pertinent paper loss. Documents like Philhealth papers are too much important to get lost.
I understand that cases are increasing so much and it causes difficulty in handling the situation, this is a great opportunity for process improvement. They don’t have to do it overnight but I hope they have the initiative of gradually doing it.
They all changed overtime after transferring the ARG clinic to that location and when they substituted a different nurse for Ate Ana.
With these issues I have told and the lurking anomaly with the staff who disclosed a fellow poz guy’s status publicly on Twitter… I think I’m leaning towards transferring to a different health institution or perhaps hoping they’ll realize what needs to be done and act on it.
The exclusivity of the RITM as a treatment hub is slowly deteriorating.

Anniversary CD4

This was supposed to be July but due to uncontrollable weather disturbances, my acute bronchitis and some procrastination this was moved to September… Yes, two months after.
I decided to have it done on a Friday so I can be absent from work and go on a long weekend… which happened to be a boring one. 
I woke up at around 730am, prepared some stuff like my backpack, the disguising bottle of my ARV and the pertinent papers – PhilHeath papers and Makati Med lab results.
Fasting started 12 midnight prior to that morning so I was that hungry, I even opted not to brush my teeth – this will just make me hungrier. LOL
Arrived at RITM at like 830am and as advised, OPD and ARG clinic has been relocated to another location… I got lost, of course am no kiddo so I asked the Kuya and Ate Jaguars to lead the way.
In all fairness, the new office site is more conducive – bigger floor area, a bit separate from the animal bite section and smells like provincial breeze. So, OPD and ARG combined into a bigger room.
When I entered the room, came along a new face – perhaps this was the new nurse in replacement of Ate Ana : Ate Mameng. I heard some stories of her being bitchy or should I say grumpy or masungit to patients. Well, I tried to call her several days before my scheduled test and she sounded nice so no big deal about it.
It was my turn and she was preparing the test requests, I already know what tests should be done but as I scrutinized the request, I wasn’t able to understand some handwriting and asked her what are those…
Unfortunately in a grumpy and masungit manner, she answered – “ano ka ba, buti nga libre na yan”. Knowing me being a reactive person and adding my hungriness I uttered in a respectful but sarcastic manner – “Alam ko  po, gusto ko  lang malaman kung anong klaseng exams to para alam ko” She then explained everything in detail… still in a grumpy manner. 
Haay, alright… I’d try to widen my senses and understand, maybe she’s no longer young and hormones are on the loose. but with all due respect.. I’m still thankful for her since she accepted the job of helping those in need.
Checking my peripheral vision, there was a guy smiling at me… I tried looking at him and to my surprise, he looked familiar. It took several minutes for my brain cells to work – I’m hungry, ok?. Hindi ko siya pinapansin and when I stared at him I said – “kilala kita!” He said the same thing. Ok, another small world instance not knowing a friend of yours is also sero-converted. Not a big issue.
Blood extraction was first in line and it took 4 vials of blood to complete the test. Still a lot! Time to get back to the new clinic and request for medicines, Ate Let and Victoria prepared the needed papers and sent me to the doctor on shift. Got my meds and Ate Mameng told that there was a free Hepatitis booster vaccine, I grabbed the opportunity so I took it. Till now, my shoulder is pain because of that. 
I was making tambay at the clinic and letting time pass by, I can feel Ate Mameng is starting to be friendly in a manner that she makes small talks. 
My intestinal walls can no longer hold the acids and my tummy started to make rumble so I decided to go home and perhaps buy some snacks on the way.
It was a tiring, hunger-full day. 
Four in the afternoon, I texted Ate Let for my cd4 results..
My new cd4 count as of September 09, 2011 = 608  

It went down by 2 points. From 282 to 610 to 608. I was expecting that it will reach like 800+ but to my dismay it went on a semi-plateau behavior. Just steady – whatever happened, I need to change my lifestyle again so next time it will be higher. Oh well, fluctuating numbers.  

Non-Calibrated

I heard over the news about this guy who tested HIV + sa San Lazaro Hospital last 1998. This guy then had another screening test both at SLH and RITM and now tested negative. Here: LINK
What happened? Yeah, he’s right it could be a switch in the blood samples.. non-calibrated machines and reagents. But who knows. Disregarding the results, this guy already suffered from the burden of being reactive. 
Nowadays, it said to believe that 99% of the screening tests are accurate.. So it means that this could be the 1%?
I know there’s this celebrity who said, “Don’t always trust those men wearing white scrub suits” I think that was Kylie Minogue when she was diagnosed with cancer. 
Having Second opinions really matter. But what I am puzzled with is the confirmatory test. As far as I know both ELISA and Western Blot tests are the gold standard of protein analysis. 
The good side of this, at least there’s a big relief on his part. Magpapa-party talaga ako! 🙂
Ta!

Intellectual Question

 a comment from a reader which I decided to post my answer. It’s a very good and intellectual question kasi…
Here’s the comment/question:
Eric said…

 @ chemistry guy- out of topic- medyo now ko lang nababasa ang majority ng blog mo and other poz blog, my question is —– How come the poz guys seem to know each other ( and i don`t mean knowing each other coz they are going to the same treatment hub )??? I mean from infection control point of view, is it because the source of infection are a few same guys??? also parang meron pa na 2 poz guys in the same office ??? medyo alarming ito, do people from ritm aware of this ? are they doing tracking of the poz guys partners??? kasi important ito from epidemiologic standpoint


you can answer me via email- xxxxx@yahoo.com

Sunday, February 27, 2011 1:16:00 PM GMT+08:00
Here’s my answer.. It’s opinionated ok? of course I’m still open to AFI’s :))

Speaking for myself.
Gay world is so small. A constricted space. Idagdag mo pa ang world of Internet. Which makes it a can of sardines. 

Most of poz guys, nagkakakilala sa blog world, sa treatment hub and other websites. It’s their means of searching for companionship since we all know, for sure, that others will have a hard time understanding our situation. The best way for it is to look for someone na kapareho ng sero-status mo. Simple as that. 

Regarding epidemiology. The role of RITM is provide treatment for those poz. They also track statistical values for record purposes. If you are thinking na baka nagkakalat lang ng virus, it’s up to the person whether if he’s responsible or not. Which is alarming nga. I stand to that. May mga kilala akong ganyan. 

🙂 


I think this is the reality. There’s no way but up, HIV infections will surely increase. The only thing health institutions, Government and us, the general population , is to slow the infection rate. There’s no known vaccine or cure yet. I don’t know, maybe meron na pero tinatago lang ng mga Pharmaceutical giants so they can still earn billions sa mga ARV’s nila. Sad to know, hear and say. But others are doing crazy things. Still keeping the plague at its fastest rate. Sounds cliche, just like the zombie or any post apocalyptic movies. Fingers crossed, maybe 10 years from now maging ok na din lahat.

Nice to know you Eric! Sorry kung pinost ko ha..

Ta!