The official site of The Project Red Ribbon Care Management Foundation, Inc. (TRR).

  • TRR LOVE FUND

    TRR Love Fund is the arm of the foundation which provides medical assistance to the financially challenged PLHIV.

  • Care assistance for HIV Test

    The Care Assistant Program involves assistance to HIV testing and HIV and AIDS Treatment hubs in the Philippines. Our volunteers schedule the client to the clinic or hub, assist with the procedure in the clinic or hub and conduct peer counseling

  • HOTLINE ASSISTANCE

    With the TRR Hotline Numbers, our volunteers answer concerns and inquiries about HIV and AIDS, do counselling, refers clients to nearest HIV Testing facility, HIV and AIDS Treatment Hub and government and NGO organizations for support

  • PEER COUNSELING

    The foundation volunteers conduct one-on-one counseling either on the phone or in person. They also conduct group counseling

  • SUPPORT GROUP TALK

    The support group talk (SGT) is a program that involves giving HIV lectures by guest speakers, discuss topics about HIV, care, treatment and support, discussion issues related to HIV

  • OUTREACH PROGRAM

    The foundation's outreach program is geared towards providing support to our fellow PLHIV's in the HIV and AIDS Treatment Hubs. Volunteers hand out of donations of medicines and special gifts to PLHIV, give inspirational talks by invited guests to a group of PLHIV, bonding over snacks or meal, visit the sick who are confined in the hospital

  • Referral System

    As part of treatment, the foundation's referral program involves our volunteers referring clients to specialized doctors who are HIV friendly. The foundation has it's own list of specialty doctors of low cost for the indigent PLHIV.

  • Online Support Group

    The foundation has a private Online Support Group in facebook. This group of advocates, supporters, counselors, health Workers and PLHIV

  • Home Health

    Aside from client counselling, the foundation volunteers also do family counselling and home visitation for awareness and continuance of care.

  • Health Fitness

    The foundation believes in holistic approach to treatment and care, thus inclusion of these programs: yoga, dance, swimming, jogging and running, boot camp workouts

  • EVENTS

    As part of awareness and education program, the foundation organizes its own national events to coincide with the international AIDS events: World AIDS Day and International AIDS Candlelight Memorial

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Thank You Guys!

To all those who I have chatted with in twitter, namely,  @poz_angel, @bohemian_diary, @positHIVe, @iamhivpositivem, @astrb0i, @casuallypositiv, @PosJerry, @ako_si_bong, @boypositibo, @poz_pete@allaboutaids, @3rdworld_poz, @patient303, @sexybeehive, @pozzie_boy23, @geekpozzie.. thank you so much...

I wish you guys all the best in the world! You made me deal with my solitary confinement easy and for that, from the bottom of my heart I thank you.

As I bid farewell, I would like to give you this song as a reminder of my existence with you guys. I will be a tiny speck in the sky looking down as you guys make your lives spectacular!

Have a Happy and Prosperous New Year!




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Life Reconstitution



It's new years eve today and for the past days, I've been slowly going back to my normal life again. After 4 months of having AIDS, exactly 88 days of taking my ARV's --- from having pneumonia, to being hospitalized and stopping going to work, to meeting a lot of doctors, to being confined in my house for a month, to having problems with my lab tests after taking my ARV's, to switching hubs, to being scared of the side effects of ARV's --- now my life is coming back to normalcy.

My life is being reconstituted. Like the "IRIS" term in AIDS once you start taking ARV's, everything is going right. My life is correcting itself on it's own. Because I know I've gained strength physically, mentally and emotionally, I can do normal things now and I am so happy. I did my part of the bargain. For four months I followed all my doctors and Tag. I did what they told me to do and I feel that I am in good physical health now. I also made it a point to be healthy. I never missed any scheduled dose of my ARV's nor be late on my schedule. I surrounded myself with people I don't know in twitter but who knew more about my virus. I did my researches and tried as much to eat good and exercise because I knew that this time will come.

For the past days, I felt so alive. I can now travel which is what I love to do. Tag and I had been to a spectacular place this Christmas and he surprised me with a commitment diamond ring on Christmas eve. We already scheduled our trips for the next 2 months of the next year and tonight we will be making our year end goals together I am so happy that I have Tag on my side. I love him so much.

My life is being reconstituted. I am going back to work on the first working day of the year and I am so excited. My doctor friend messaged me in facebook and she told me that she is so happy about it. Of course I still have to be careful in my work environment but I am prepared for it. I am so excited to see my people again at work. I am so grateful that they are still there, waiting for me to come back. Three of them knew my virus but they never condemned me. I am blessed. I have scheduled interviews about work which will be televised and I already accepted them. I am back!

I am living with AIDS up to now, but with the reconstitution, I am proud to say that I am free to live my life all over again. The past has been buried and I've learned my lessons well. It is now time to face reality and to start dreaming big things again. It's a new life ... and I am ready for it!




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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Hepatitis B Vaccine

Another vaccine that I got last week in RITM was the Hepatitis B vaccine. It was free there. I requested it from DR. RD during my consultation 2 weeks ago and she said that it's fine for me to get it. I was worried about my low CD4 and she said vaccinations never rely on the CD4 count. She asked me first when I last had the shot and I remembered it was like 10 years ago. I also told her that I didn't finish the booster shots so she told me that I have to get it. She also checked the Hepa B test that I had 3 months ago and it showed negative so she gave me a prescription. Dr. RD explained that for people with HIV/AIDS they give a double dose. Back in RITM Ate Ellen gave me the shot together with my flu shot and my pneumococcal vaccination. Imagine 3 shots in one sitting and it was my birthday. Ate Ellen explained that I have to come back next month to get the second shot and my last shot in June.

The hepatitis B vaccine protects against hepatitis B, a serious viral disease that damages the liver. The vaccine is made from the inactivated (dead) hepatitis B virus. After you get a hepatitis B vaccine, your body learns to attack the hepatitis B virus if you are exposed to it. This means you are very unlikely to get sick with hepatitis B. Because no vaccine is 100% effective, it is still possible to get hepatitis B, even after you have been completely vaccinated.

Ask your doctor about vaccinations. Let's proactively strengthen our defense system against possible infections. 



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HIV/AIDS Vaccine


Weight Gain with ARV's

I gained 30 pounds in just 3 months of taking ARV's . I wanted this. People said I look better and a lot said I look more buff. But no matter what, I feel that I have reached beyond my upper limit so I better do something about it now.

I've read that some ARV's can increase one's appetite. In my case, it is absolutely true. I'm gaining fat more on my belly (poor abs) and I am starting to lose my cuts on my arms. My cheeks are getting fuller so people who haven't seen me for a long time tell me that I am getting fat because of the roundness of my face. I know I feel healthier now but geez, I need to look fit again. The hardest part is that the Christmas season is here and it is pretty hard to refrain from eating. No matter what, I have to be conscious of my body again. I have to.

I have read that weight gain within six months of starting anti-retroviral therapy predicts better survival and longer life expectancy in an HIV positive person. That is good to know though. My body is responding well I guess. But the problem is too much weight gain is still bad and can later lead to health problems. I should act now. I am thinking on cutting down on food and start an aggressive workout program again. Anyway, I am used to that and maybe increase the intensity some more this time. I just need to lose the fat and gain all my muscles back.

I know I can do it. It would be harder this time though because I know with the ARV's I will have a tough fight.




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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

HIV Prevention for HIV Positive People

The Pneumonia Vaccine

I had my pneumonia vaccination last week. I personally requested this to Dr. RD because I don't want to be sick anymore. I got this in RITM and I paid P1,500 for the shot. Ate Ellen administered it and she was great. She told me that only a few are willing to get these vaccinations because they are expensive but I told her that it is more expensive to get sick. I spent more than P300k in my 10 day stay in my private hospital before because of my recurrent pneumonia and I dont want to take that risk ever again.

What is the Pneumonia Vaccine?

Pneumococcal vaccination is a method of preventing a specific type of lung infection (pneumonia) that is caused by Pneumococcus bacterium. There are more than 80 different types of pneumococcus bacteria-23 of these are covered in the current vaccination. The vaccine is injected into the body to stimulate the normal immune system to produce antibodies that are directed against pneumococcus bacteria.This method of stimulating the normal immune system to be directed against a specific microbe is called immunization. Pneumococcal vaccination is also referred to as Pneumococcal immunization.

Pneumococcal vaccination does not protect against pneumonia caused by microbes other than pneumococcus bacteria, nor does it protect against pneumococcal bacteria strains not included in the vaccine. It is reassuring do note that of the 80 different serotypes, the vast majority of infections are caused by the 23 serotypes contained in the vaccine.

How is pneumococcal vaccine administered?

The pneumococcal vaccine is given as one dose for most people. The vaccine is injected as a liquid solution of 0.5 mL into the muscle (intramuscular or IM), typically deltoid muscle, or under the skin (subcutaneous or SC). The area injected is typically sterilized by rubbing alcohol onto the skin prior to the injection.
Persons vaccinated prior to age 65 should be vaccinated at age 65 if five or more years have passed since the first dose. For people with lack of spleen function (such as in sickle cell disease or after spleen removal), transplant patients, patients with chronic kidney disease, immunosuppressed or immunodeficient persons, and others at highest risk of fatal infection, a second dose should be given at least five years after first dose.

What are side effects of pneumococcal vaccine?

Pneumococcal vaccine uncommonly causes side effects. Reported side effects include soreness and/or redness at the site of the injection, fever, rash, and allergic reactions.

I was told by Dr. RD that at any CD4 level, we can have vaccinated. It is of utmost importance that we get these preventive measures to better able us to fight pneumonia.




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Help Yourself To Stand Up

When I was diagnosed to have AIDS last September, I told myself that I have to do everything to fight back. I know that it's going to be a long fight but I have to do my part. There is no reason not to. My support system is strong. Tag loves me. His family and my family are very supportive. We can afford the treatments and lab tests. My health then relies only on me. There are no other obstacles.

1. OI's are Not Allowed!

I had recurrent pneumonia and oral thrush before, and this time I won't let that happen to me again. I am weakened by my the virus living in me, but it's host, me, that is stronger now. I can't allow them to happen to me anymore.

First, I know any OI's will make the CD4 go low again so why even have them when the goal of the ARV's is to make the CD4 count go up. I've been more careful than ever, although I am not as paranoid as before. I am trying to live as normal as possible, but I know that the OI's are there ready when we are not paying attention to them.

Second, the cost of having OI's is heavy on the pocket. Treatment, tests and hospitalizations are expensive. They are a burden to both you and your family. They make you get depressed. So why even have it.

Third, having OI's might compound the treatment with ARV's. I know some OI's treatments can have reactions with the ARV's. The medications might weaken the effects of the ARV's, thereby weakening your defense system.

2. Believe in Your Doctors! 

When Dr. DR first talked to me, she asked me about how I feel about the medicines. I told her that there is still no cure but I strongly believe in the medicines. It is all about faith now. I still have a strong belief in them that I make sure that I follow all the doctor's instructions on when to take them. I understand compliance and adherence. I know the repercussions in case I will skip, miss or delay my med time. I am  scared of my defense system to the virus going down. I am also scared about the side effects that would come out. I am also scared that if I delay or miss a dose, my HIV strain will be resistant to my ARV's and I have to change to another cocktail and start all over again with all the monitoring of blood tests and the side effects and the costs that they will incur.

It is also important to ask your doctors if you have doubts. I, myself have to write down 10 questions every consultation for my doctor. I read a lot of literature online, but Western researches are usually applicable to Asians. Our doctors have more experience in the country. They know what is right for us. They know what works for us.

3. I Stay Positive. Tags dad talked to me and told me that his coworker was HIV positive and still working. He said that everything will be alright. I was glad.

From that time on I told myself that I will get better. There is no other way but to get out of this rut. When you're down there is no other way to go but up. I am hopeful, I told DR. DR, and I am on my best health ever now because of the ARV's. I told her that I don't even think of my ARV's as medicines. I think of them like vitamins. It will take time I know for my CD4 to go up, but I have an entire lifetime, so why worry about it when I know that it will someday go above the cutoff. Why worry about it when I know that I am now in my best health, that love is overflowing around me no matter what and I have a good life ahead of me.

4. Focus on Prevention.


a. Know your limitations. Stop your vices. No to drinking of alcoholic beverages or smoking. Know what is healthy. This is your second life already so why waste it again. Get enough sleep, maybe 8 hours is best.

b. Eat right. Up to now, I think of people with AIDS as thin and sickly so I make sure I eat a lot and I eat healthy. Before I started taking my ARV's I started eating 6-7 meals a day. I prepared myself and forced myself to eat more. Now I am always hungry. I gained 30 pounds and I look better to a lot of people. I researched on the various food groups that are beneficial to me.

c. Taking Precautions. I am pretty watchful on people who can get me sick. I stay away from people who are coughing, those who have respiratory problems. I am careful about my environment, with dealing with meat and eating raw food. I opted not to have sex now, but in case it happens, sex with protection only. I make sure that I get all my vaccinations done on a regular basis. I try to avoid crowded places and I always bring hand sanitizers when I go to the hospital. I am conscious about hygiene.

It all boils down to this. We all need to be healthy again. There is no other way. Our families and friends are just there to support us but we, alone can help ourselves. We alone can make ourselves better. We then should do whatever it takes to fight and recover as soon as possible. Help yourself to stand up and be an inspiration to everybody!




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Monday, December 19, 2011

Another Reason To Smile


Smile because we are still alive. Smile because we still have free ARV's which are so expensive in the first world countries. Smile because we have hubs that are will willing to give free services. Smile because even with our lives with our disease we can still be functional.

It is Christmas time and everybody is busy with their own Christmas parties, with their Christmas gifts, with their family reunions. Everybody is busy planning for their Christmas and New Year's eve. But the recent events in the country somehow changed everybody's attention. Typhoon Sendong devastated Mindanao, and from the reports, it has already killed more than 500 Filipinos. All the TV stations are focused on reporting about the casualties and the damages. They kept on showing photos of the new landscape of the region.. muddy, full of debris, a lot of destroyed properties, people mourning.

A lot of people are using social networking to mobilize people to help. A lot are posting numbers of the Philippine National Red Cross or the TV stations. Even texting to donate has been utilized. People are trying to help. People are recognizing the impact of the situation during this supposedly joyous time.

We are still lucky. We are alive. In Mindanao people were struck with fear and some pictures of families struck with death with their children in their arms. We are lucky. Some people don't have homes and some have lost their loved ones. We are lucky. We still have a lot while down south, a lot of people have lost everything they have. We are still lucky. We are on the other side of the spectrum where we have the capacity to help those who are needing.

This is another reason to smile. We are alive. Even though we are living with the disease, we are still here and able to fight. Let's value what we have. Let's appreciate what is still being given to us so we can't suffer anymore with our disease. Let's be thankful for all the free treatments and services that are being delivered to us both by our government and by the foreign assistance. Let's be grateful to all HIV/AIDS doctors, counsellors, nurses, and foundations who are around us and with us for our fight to life.




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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

My Second Refill


Yesterday,  I went to RITM as planned because I need to refill even though I still have an ample supply (I'm still good for 17 days supply of my ARV's). I know everybody will be busy for the next 2 weeks so I might as well get them now. I saw Letlet and Ate Ellen again and there where like 4 people who were waiting in line. I waited for like 10 minutes to talk to Letlet and I gave her my prescriptions. While she was looking for my card, I approached Ate Ellen and gave her the prescriptions for my vaccination. She attended to me fast and left to get my vaccines. I went back to Letlet and she told me that their efavirenz was out of stock. I got worried so I texted Dr. RD and informed her. She told me that their supply will come anytime that day, but she can have my medicines delivered in her clinic, so I just left my prescription to Ate Ellen.

As Ate Ellen prepped me up for the injections, she told me that they've been waiting for their supply since the other day. So I asked her what if there are patients who didn't have any efavirenz anymore. She told me that it happened to them before and she had to call people to donate their pills first to the needing ones. She told me that the best way to do it is to come to the hub as soon as you open your last bottle so if there will be any problems, you will still have your supply.

Ate Ellen was skilled in injecting. I didn't feel anything. She also told me that I can be vaccinated by her at my home if I want to. She can bring my meds and it's up to me to pay her any amount. That was sweet of her. I paid her P2,100 for all my vaccinations.

The people there were very friendly, so before I left, I gave the staff P1,000 donation to their Christmas party. They were so helpful to me even though there was a line there. Maybe because I'm a patient of Dr. RD? Or maybe I looked friendly. Haha.

Anyway, I left RITm with no ARV's. I will just get them from DR. RD's clinic as she promised to text me when she has them.




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Sunday, December 11, 2011

Supplemental Treatments

I’ve been told a lot of times about the benefits of these supplements and food. Some pozzies believe that they can really help in increasing the CD4 and or decreasing the viral load, together with the ARV's. I asked Dr. RD about this and she just said that she has nothing against any of them except that there are really no proven facts or literature saying that they are effective.

Well, for the benefit of everybody, I made a research about these and this is what I got. It's up to you to decide.

Grapes

HIV promotes a strong and destructive Pro-oxidant state within the body. This Oxidative state produces stress that can damage cells and tissue in the body. Since we are on the subject of nutrition, I should mention a food that can help. 

Grapes!  Grapes not only have a full assortment of nutritional value, including; Vitamins B12 and C, Selenium, Zinc and Resveratrol, as well as much more. But it also acts as a powerful Antioxidant, thus reducing cell and tissue damage. In-fact to illustrate some of the power of grapes, there is something called the French Paradox. Researchers have found that the French regularly eat more animal fat, which has been linked to greater chances of disease, such as Heart Disease. The Paradox comes in when the French maintain a low incidence of Heart Disease. This is primarily believed to be due to their high consumption of red wine and the Resveratrol in it. Resveratrol is currently being researched as alternative treatments for cancer and HIV for its potent qualities.  It is believed to work by halting both cancer and HIV from progressing and replicating, and even is believed to induce cell death within cancer cells.

Back in the 1980’s, Johanna Brandt, an immigrant from South Africa, developed what she called, a cure, derived from grapes.  It was shortly titled, the Brandt Grape Cure, and it was believe to cure both cancer and reverse HIV, through it potent Antioxidant, detoxifying and nutritional properties.  Though the cure has been ridiculed as being a hoax, it is only now that some of the many properties of grapes are getting a second look, as we are discovering some of its potential in the area of fighting diseases.   This treatment starts off by cutting all other foods from your diet before going on a 12 hour water fast.  After 12 hours, you casually consume grapes (preferably concord or purple grapes, with the skin and seeds intact) over the next 12 hours as well as your drinking water accordingly.  Afterwards, you start the process over again until healthy.

The theory is, the fasting puts your body into a more starved state as well as the infected cells, then when you eat the grapes, the disease fighting qualities of the grapes are what the diseases themselves get instead.  It is important to note that the skin and seeds should be intact and the grapes themselves, fresh and unprocessed, as that’s where a majority of these nutrients come from.

Selenium

HIV patients may have an effective weapon to lengthen their lives, thanks to selenium. Taking a selenium supplement daily appears to keep HIV at bay and also strengthen the immune system, according to research by the University of Miami.

In a double-blind study of 262 HIV patients divided between patients receiving the supplements and placebos, the patients who received 200 micrograms of high-selenium yeast each day fought the disease much better. When each patient was given a comprehensive medical exam at the end of the study 9 months later, the ones who took selenium daily had a lower amount of the HIV in their bloodstream and better immune cell counts compared to those who hadn't.

The reason selenium may help people with HIV live longer is its antioxidant properties: it may help reverse damage that the disease does to the immune system. However, that does not make it a substitute for the antiretroviral therapy medications used to fight HIV, the researchers concluded.

Virgin Coconut Oil

It was in the 1980’s when the ability of medium chain fatty acids like capric and lauric to fight HIV was first discovered. Antiviral drugs that are currently being prescribed fail to save lives and restore the health of Aids victim. Aside from the fact that the virus can develop resistance to these drugs, it also has lots of adverse side effects. Medium chain fatty acids is said to be a more effective cure as it attacks the virus in a different way than other drugs. Instead of targeting the genetic material of the virus, MCFA’s simply breaks the virus apart. The absorption of MCFAs by the virus weakens the lipid membrane of the virus and will eventually kill the virus. This mechanism of action makes it almost impossible for the virus to develop resistant strain to MCFAs.

Dr. Conrado Dayrit, a medical doctor from the Philippines did the first study on coconut oil for treating Aids patients. His study tested the effect of monolaurin and coconut oil in 14 HIV patients, ages ranging from 22-38. Four grams of monolaurin a day was given to four patients while five of them received 7.2 grams of monolaurin. The last group was given 3 ½ tablespoons of coconut oil per day. At the end of the study (six months), the viral count of nine patients decreased. Two of them were from the first group, four from the second, and three from the third group. Eleven of them showed health improvements. This research proves that monolaurin and coconut oil can be used to treat Aids patients.

It's for you to decide, but still best to ask your doctor first before you take any other supplement!




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Email 1 Looking for Support Group

Hi Pozziepinoy,

I just came across your blog and I would like to commend you for it. The simple advocacy is great.
I usually don’t read local blogs about HIV because most of them are really scary, uninformed and negative but yours is really pleasant.

I am also poz. I got diagnosed last October and started my meds the same month. Funny thing is that I can really relate to some of your posts and all the things you’ve been through.Halos pareho lahat: from the intensive research about the disease, commitment for adherence, the rashes, side effects, the desire to get back to health & fitness, nutrition, wanting to be informed and all. We even go to the same doctor. 

Anyway I still have a lot to learn about the whole thing. I’ve already accepted my status and thankful that my family is in full support of me. Only close friends and close relatives know about my status. And I’d like to keep it that way. Tanggap naman nila. (hindi naman siguro masama yun).

Marami pa rin akong fears of course but I guess it’s normal. I just tell myself “It’s all a process”. And I pray and pray lagi. I am kinda private person and I am grateful that my experiences last October didn’t put too much toll on me. I met the right people I needed and my family made it easier.

I wanted to go back to work because I feel great already but my parents begged me not to until I am stable with my numbers. So I’m kinda bum right now, not that I’m complaining. Sobrang marked improvement kc since I started my ARVs. And my doctor told me everything will go back to normal as long as I commit to it. And I trust her.

One thing that I am lacking right now is a support poz group. I haven’t even met or talked to someone who is poz, terrible but true. I know I should and I’d love to. I see them all over the net but I guess I’m not yet ready. This is really the first time I am reach out (pardon).

Anyway I hope we can keep in touch. I’ll try post some comments on your entries to compare notes if you don’t mind or add inputs.

Keep up the good work.

XXX




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HIV Stops With Me!

Everything Will Be Ok!

So you got your confirmatory result and you don't know what to do. You cry a little, blame yourself a little, regret what you have done, get scared of your life and your work, don't know who to tell. We all have experienced that. It's a normal stage that we go through but don't fret. Everything will be fine. You are alive and you are capable of thinking straight. Life is full of hope and with our disease there is hope that everything will be ok!

The best way to calm yourself and open your mind to our disease is begin to be knowledgeable about it as soon as possible. You need to be educated fast about our disease and the treatment.You can look for an infectious disease (ID) doctor or even go to a hub near you (you can email me if you want details about the hubs or any ID). You can also surf the net to answer all your questions. You can also learn from the wisdom from other people who are living with our disease from stories in the net or blogs or even in youtube. Trust me, you become less scared if you are well informed.

Its better to talk. When you are ready to tell somebody, do it. Half of your worries goes away when you talk about our disease. Trust me, it gives you strength when you know you are not alone with your fight. Usually, the family members and parents are the first people to reveal to because no matter what, they are your family and your suffering will be their suffering too, your strength will be their strength too. I know it would be hard at first but by telling them, you will be protected. Another person to tell is a close friend. Trust me, it lightens the weight that you are carrying when there is a shoulder to cry on or a person who will embrace you and understand and tell you that everything will be fine.

Those are the first steps to cope up fast to our disease. I keep reiterating that everything will be ok because that is the truth. A little step forward everyday will bring you forward towards a brighter tomorrow. You are not alone. We are all fighting, everyday but by having a good positive attitude, everyday becomes a good day!




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The Flu Shot

I asked my doctor, Dr. RD if I can take any vaccination even though my level of CD4 was initially low.She said I can be vaccinated if I want to and she prescribed 4 vaccinations, one of which is the yearly flu (influenza) shot.

I got this from the CDC Fact Sheet:

HIV/AIDS and Influenza (Flu)

HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is the virus that causes AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome). HIV kills or damages cells in the body’s immune system, gradually destroying the body’s ability to fight infection and certain cancers. 

People with HIV/AIDS are considered at increased risk from serious influenza-related complications. Studies have shown an increased risk for heart- and lung-related hospitalizations in people infected with HIV during influenza season as opposed to other times of the year, and a higher risk of influenza-related death in HIV-infected people. Other studies have indicated that influenza symptoms might be prolonged and the risk of influenza-related complications higher for certain HIV-infected people. Vaccination with a 
flu shot has been shown to produce an immune response against influenza viruses in certain people infected with HIV. Because influenza can result in serious illness, HIV-infected persons are recommended for vaccination.  

Should people with HIV/AIDS receive the inactivated influenza vaccine? 

People with chronic underlying medical conditions, including HIV/AIDS, should receive inactivated influenza vaccine (the flu shot). People with HIV/AIDS are considered at increased risk from serious influenza-related complications and should be vaccinated.Persons with advanced HIV disease may have a poor response to immunization. Therefore, chemoprophylaxis (use of antiviral medications for prevention) should be considered for these patients if they are likely to be 
exposed to people with influenza. 

Are there people with HIV/AIDS who should NOT receive the inactivated influenza 
vaccine? 

Contraindications to the use of inactivated influenza vaccine (the flu shot) in persons with HIV/AIDS are the same as those for uninfected persons ― a history of severe allergy (i.e., anaphylactic allergic reaction) to hens’ eggs, or a history of onset of Guillain-Barre syndrome during the 6 weeks after vaccination. 
Can people with HIV/AIDS receive the live attenuated flu vaccine (LAIV, sold 
commercially as FluMist)? 

No. Persons with HIV/AIDS and persons with other medical conditions are not recommended to receive the live influenza vaccine. LAIV contains a weakened form of the live influenza virus. LAIV is approved for use only among healthy persons between the ages of 5 and 29 years. 



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Friday, December 9, 2011

Second Consultation

I had my second consultation with Dr. RD this morning. I was there around 7:30am when nobody was there yet, so I put my name on the paper on the door. Of course, I was number one. After 45 minutes I saw 2 girls wearing masks. They peeked inside the clinic room through a small glass window. I asked them if they're also going to see Dr. RD and when they said yes, I told them to write their names on the paper too. Later on I found out that they are new patients and are referred from a nearby hospital. They were from Quezon City. I didn't pry anymore. After 15 more minutes, another woman came wearing a mask and looked at the glass window too. Whoa, I was outnumbered there.

At 9:20am, the secretary came and opened Dr. RD's clinic and called my name. She made me fill out a form and weighed me. I was 170 pounds there! Geez! Then I sat down inside the clinic and waited for my doctor.

At 9:35am, Dr. RD came in with her daughter. She saw me and greeted me and in minutes, I was already sitting in front of her desk. I gave her the photocopies of my files and a tabulation of my lab tests. She was glad that my ALT already went down. She browsed on my records and then prescribed 3 months supply of my ARV's which I will get from the hub on the 13th of this month since we will be around that area on that date.

I asked her about taking again my regular vitamins. She said that I can take the over the counter vitamins like what I used to take. I asked her about VCO and selenium and she said she has nothing against them, and those supplements have no proven data yet when it comes to their actual effectivity.

I asked her as to what level of CD4 count should I have for me to have vaccinations. She said at any level, at any time, I can have the vaccinations. She then prescribed me 4 vaccinations that I can have: the flu vaccine, hepa B vaccine, streptoccocus vaccine and meningococcemia vaccine. She told me that hepa B in RITM is free and the rest, I have to pay for them.

I told her that I don't have any side effects from my meds since I'm following the empty stomach directions from my previous doctor. I told her that after taking my meds, I get hungry so I asked her if I can eat after taking the meds, especially efavirenz. She told me that I can eat 2 hours after taking all my meds.

She scheduled for all lab tests to be repeated on mid March plus my CD4 test. I will be seeing her then before I get my next refill from my hub.

Before I left, she told me that my other doctors in the other hospital were asking about me. She also told me to say hi to Tag for her. I smiled.




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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The October Report


The National Epidemiology Center of the Department of Health just released their October report on the status of HIV/AIDS in the country:

1. In October 2011, there were 200 new HIV Ab sero-positive individuals confirmed by the STD/AIDS Cooperative  Central Laboratory (SACCL) and reported to the HIV and AIDS Registry
2.  This was 92% higher compared to the same period last year 
3. Most of the cases (97%) were males. 
4.The median age was 27 years (age range:15-65 years). 
5. The 20-29 year (60%) age-group had the most number of cases.    
6. Fifty-four percent (108) of the reported cases were from the National Capital Region (NCR).
7. Reported mode of transmission was sexual contact (183), and needle sharing among injecting drug users (17) 
8. Males having sex with other males (85%) were the  predominant type of sexual 
transmission 
9. Most (199) of the cases were still asymptomatic at the time of reporting AIDS Cases
10. Of the 200 HIV positive cases, only one was reported as an AIDS case, a 27-year-old male. The infection was acquired through bisexual contact.
11. No AIDS-related death was reported for this month.
12. Twenty-one of the 200 (10%) reported cases were OFWs. There were 19 males and 2 
females. The median age was 31 years (age range: 19-44 years). All cases acquired the infection through sexual contact


Credits:
Philippine HIV/AIDS Registry NEC-DOH



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Stupid Myths

Tag came home and told me this story yesterday. He said, his coworker came to him and warned him to be careful in drinking Pepsi because word is spreading around his company that an HIV worker in the Pepsi factory is dropping his infected blood in the soda. Tag just laughed because it was just stupid. I told him, that what is more stupid is that people are spreading it, believing in it and getting scared even in his company of educated people.

So what's the impact of this? People are still unaware of the facts.. on how HIV can be transmitted. People still believe on myths. Are we  back to the hand-shake scare or the sneeze scare of transmission of the disease? Are people blind and deaf to the awareness programs and all the information being disseminated around the world? Are people unaware that because of their stupidity, of the fact that having this "Pepsi Scare", they are already contributing to the strong stigma attached to the HIV/AIDS. How can people living with the disease fully heal when talks like these scare people away? How can our families and friends who are close to us even talk about our struggles and achievements in fighting the disease when the community is scared and is still believing in myths?

Let's stop this stupidity and start believing in the facts. Stop spreading this Pepsi-scare nonsense and instead start spreading more knowledge about HIV/AIDS.



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Monday, December 5, 2011

Another Face


It's really bothering me why the incidence of HIV/AIDS is still on the rise when there are a lot of awareness programs going around the country. I wonder why people, like me, never listened. I wonder why these awareness programs never penetrated my very mind. I wonder why I didn't get scared. I read another blog and the blogger said, in his opinion, that the awareness programs are useless. He was aware and still he caught HIV. I was like that too. So why? We are all aware that the incidence of HIV is still rising, but with the increasing awareness, so is the number of HIV/AIDS infections. Is it because more and more are getting tested? Maybe, but we have to be more happy if those who have been tested turn out to be negative, but seems more are infected. We also have to consider that there an alarming number of blood donors who still don't know that they are infected too. They are lingering somewhere in our society. Are they aware? Maybe. But I guess, they are more scared of being tested.

I don't want to blame culture and religion anymore. I'm done with that. What is important is what we can do, now. What I can do now to help.

So what is the root of the problem in our society? DOH is presenting an alarming 8 persons per day infection and there are already 7,684 persons living with HIV. How come we are not alarmed yet?

We are all just part of the statistics, that is why. We are just numbers to most congressmen and politicians. Only a few came out with a full face and identity to help prevent the spread of the disease. Most people believe because the virus is not attached to a lot of faces, we are just numbers to them. Because people are not coming out to tell their stories in public, a lot of people may think that HIV/AIDS is a myth only... that it doesn't exist.

The awareness programs here, mostly are in visual photos, show real people... famous and good looking people. In Africa they showed dying people.. people who are in their death beds trying to fight.. and people listened. Here awareness programs don't invite people to come out, or invite more PLWH to share their stories publicly. In other countries, the PLWH are walking out on the streets fighting for their rights. In our country, mostly the activists are doing the talking, in other countries, the PLWH especially those who are sick with OI's show up in public and government held forums.

I thought about coming out to the public. I want to actually. Im 75% ready. I worry about my partner and my family though. I don't know if they are ready to answer questions about me and how it will affect their lives. But if this will help to humanize those numbers, I am more than willing to come out and show myself and tell everybody that I have AIDS. I have a great story to tell and to share.

I know I need to learn from the other pozzies who came out before. I need to know their struggles. I need to know how they prepared their loved ones. This is another phase of my life that I know I can really influence people to listen. I really wanna give hope. I want to put another face on the disease and belong to the list of courageous men and women who have done it in the name of helping other people, to prevent and fight this virus.




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My Second Month

Today is my second month of taking ARV's, exactly 60 days. Whew. No more side effects, I hope.

To recap once more, I started taking ARV's last October 6. My cocktail includes tenofovir, lamivudine and efavirenz.  I take them all at once at night time, at exactly 10pm on an empty stomach. I am also taking cotrimoxazole, 800 mg a day at 7am and azithromycin, 1250 mg once every week which I take it every Wednesday.

How about side effects? On my 12th day of taking the ARV's, I had rashes all over my body which resolved in 3 days. My ALT or SGPT also went up to a staggering 328 after 17 days of treatment. After that there were on and off minimal itchiness. I sometimes felt hot.

Right now, I can say that I am on my best health. Since last year I had already bouts of on and off fever and monthly diarrhea. This is the first time that I feel that I am not getting sick at all. I can say that being strong mentally and physically help a lot. The ARV's too, it seems, are doing wonders to my body and I am continuing to believe in them.

My message to all those who are getting ready to take the medicines, is to be strong and just trust in the medicines. Our body has the greatest capability to adjust so just believe that the medicines will work. Have patience all the time, the symptoms will subside and the side effects will abate. Eventually, you will feel better again.




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Friday, December 2, 2011

Facts

I read these facts from 4 articles yesterday as the country celebrated the World AIDS Day:

1. Nine out of every 10 cases were infected on account of high-risk sexual contact

2. Senator Miriam Santiago has filed a measure seeking to replace the law to control and prevent the spread of the disease known as Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrom

3. Philippine Health Insurance Corp. vowed to provide strong protection and full support to members who acquire the highly infectious human immunodeficiency virus


4. More and more Filipinos have become afflicted with HIV/AIDS: 253 new cases in Sept. 2011 alone. This is 65 percent higher than the number of new cases in Sept. 2010.

4. According to the DOH, the number of cases has risen by 40% from 2010, with 6 to 8 people diagnosed with HIV every day.

5. OFWs accounted for 23 percent, or 1,729, out of the 7,684 total cases in the National HIV and AIDS Registry as of Sept. 30


6. 15 Filipinos so far have died this year due to HIV/AIDS.

7.  Quezon City reported the most number of HIV cases with 1,669 people tested positive this year.

8. The Philippines is one of only seven countries in the world struggling with rapidly increasing new HIV infections, despite the global downtrend

9. This year, Quezon City has budgeted more than P3 million for its anti-HIV efforts.


10. All in all, since 1984, there have been 339 HIV/AIDS-related deaths, and a total of 7,684 Filipinos reported to have HIV/AIDS.

11. From January to September this year, a total of 1,669 new HIV infections were passively discovered in the country, up 40 percent versus the 1,201 cases detected over the same nine-month period in 2010

12. The DOH warns if the public fails to heed warnings about the disease, the country could be looking at more than 40,000 HIV cases by 2015.

13. At the rate new cases are being spotted, government could be spending P1 billion yearly by 2015, just to procure the antiretroviral drugs needed to treat Filipinos with HIV




Thursday, December 1, 2011

Blow The Red Whistle Today!



World AIDS Day Wishlist


Today is World AIDS Day! It is my first time to celebrate it. I for one, is a person living with AIDS. I am a living example because of the disease. I am one of the many who experienced the struggle and the pain.

But I am a survivor and I am a fighter. Now, I am happy.

As part of my own celebration of the Day, I made a wish list. I hope other people will listen.

1. I became infected because of ignorance.
    a. I wish people in our country would listen to the different organizations that are promoting awareness.
    b. I wish everyone would listen that HIV/AIDS is a real threat to our country now that the incidence rate is alarmingly increasing

2. I became infected because it was fun.
    a. I wish people should understand the value of being responsible, of taking care of their body.
    b. I wish everybody should practice safe sex. Wearing a condom doesn't take away the fun of sex.

3. I ended up in the hospital because of AIDS. I wish people would get tested early to avoid early infections.

4. I accepted that I have AIDS because of the love and support of my partner and our families. I wish people would be open to their love ones all the time. It is the love that brings all of us together even in the darkest hours. Only love can understand and not discriminate.

5. I got infected because I allowed it to happen. I wish people could say NO if it's risky. NO to not wearing a condom. NO to promiscuous sexual behaviors. NO to drug addiction and sharing of needles. NO to recreational and enhancing drugs. NO to alcoholism which can lead to us not thinking rationally.

6. People get infected because they were not informed early. I wish that schools would instill values early to the youth's mind about the disease, it's causes and mode of transmission. I wish that educators be more vocal about it so everybody won't be afraid to talk about it.

7. I got treatment because of an international funding group.
    a. I wish that our government would acknowledge that the numbers presented by DOH are not just numbers... they are real people suffering and surviving.
    b. I wish that our government should pay more attention to local funding of new machines for testing, more decentralized accredited HIV/AIDS hubs providing cheap medicines and treatment to people living with HIV/AIDS nationwide.
    c. I wish that the government can strengthen more the awareness programs in the country.
 
8. I am still a person, a human being.
    a. I wish that people like me can soon come out to our own communities, to our country and have a unifying voice that the disease really exists.
    b. I wish that there would no longer be discrimination, so we can all start becoming role models to other people. Only through our own experiences with the disease that we can help to fully spread awareness.
    c. I wish that various religious and or conservative groups should not condemn us. We are people. We are not demons. We are not cursed or punished. We deserve to be treated like every one else.

It maybe wishful thinking but everyone knows that all these can be attained. We just need to hold hands and be united in the fight.

Happy World AIDS Day to everybody!




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Spread the Knowledge, Not The Virus!

Celebrate The World AIDS Day Today!

Today the entire world is celebrating The World AIDS Day. This is held each year on, every December 1 and provides an opportunity for people worldwide, from different countries and races to join hands and unite in the fight against HIV, to show their support to people living with HIV/AIDS and to commemorate those people who have died. It started in 1988 and it was the first ever global health day.

The World health Organization (WHO) estimate that around 33 million people worldwide have been infected with HIV and that around two million each year die from AIDS identifying conditions. In lieu of this the United Nations General Assembly on October 27, 1988, officially recognized December 1, 1988, as World AIDS Day. Between 2011-2015, the World AIDS Day will have the theme of "Getting to zero: zero new HIV infections. Zero discrimination. Zero AIDS related deaths". The Wold AIDS Campaign focuses on "Zero AIDS related deaths" signifies a push towards greater access to treatment for all; a call for governments to act now.

So what can you do today? World AIDS Day is an opportunity for you to learn facts about HIV and put your knowledge into action. If you understand hos HIV is transmitted, how it can be prevented, and the reality of living with HIV today, you can use this knowledge to take care of your own health and the health of others, and ensure you treat everyone living with HIV fairly, and with respect and understanding.

Most people celebrate this day by:

1. Wearing a red ribbon, the international symbol of HIV awareness.
2. Help raise money for different HIV/AIDS organizations for prevention of the disease and for support of people living with HIV.
3. Attend and participate in HIV/AIDS conventions and seminars
4. Disseminate information about HIV/AIDS by sell ribbons and handing out flyers and pamphlets
5. Join a march or a rally to celebrate the day.
6. Join a small gathering of people living with HIV/AIDS and learn from their struggles
6. Do a personal ceblebration: praying for the people living with HIV/AIDS, light a candle to commemorate the day and pray for more awareness, unity and anti discrimination.

We can all do our part. Let's greet one another today and help the world celebrate our day, The World AIDS Day!



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Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Story of Hope

My blog is my notebook. It's just a collection of all the researches I made about HIV/AIDS especially here in the Philippines. Its a collage.. I put bits and pieces of everything about my disease. At first, it was a diary for me to reflect on, a journal for me to spill out all my emotions. Lately it has become a venue for other people to interact with me, a channel where I can assist other people with their struggles.

I met Miguel through my blog last week. He sent a message through my email. He was depressed and scared because he just found out that he was positive that day and was just waiting for the confirmatory from his Western Blot. He said he knew that he will turn positive there too. He was pretty sure. I told him that everything will be alright. He told me that nobody knows, not even his family and he was scared of rejection by them. I listened. 

For the past days, he had been messaging me. He was scared to death. He said he couldn't sleep anymore. In front of the computer he said he forgot everything but as soon as he was in bed, everything rushed back in. All bad thoughts came flooding his mind. He told me he even thought of committing suicide. I listened and I talked to him. I told him that he is an important person and he should be focusing on his health rather than entertaining bad thoughts. I allowed him to talk and talk. Most of the time I just listened. He asked questions about my experiences, about treatment, about hubs. I gave him direct answers. He kept on saying over and over again that he was worried. I calmed him down by telling him that I am there to listen to him.

For five days we had been communicating. I made it a point to answer as fast as I could when he needed me. I wanted him to know that I was there for him. Still, he was scared and couldn't sleep. Still he was confused. I listened. I answered all his questions. I gave him the best advice that I could give. I told him that I asked for prayers for him from some of the pozzies that I know. 

Yesterday morning we communicated again. But this time, I did most of the talking. I told him that we should set a goal. First, he has to accept that the disease exists in him so he can accept it and focus on his health. Second while waiting for his confirmatory he should be busy by preparing himself physically and mentally for the possible scenario, for treatment. I told him that he should start telling one of his siblings about his condition. That is the best way to prove that he has accepted his condition. I told him that right now, he needs a support system coming from any of his family members. He has to face the fact that he needs help from them. We even set a deadline, a specific date when he is going to do it. We also made a contract that he has to make sure that he is in good health before he gets the confirmatory result, meaning if he has a possible OI, he has to treat it fast. He has to be, literally, clear from any infections before the said date. I told him that it was a win-win situation. If he turned out false positive, still he will be in good and healthy condition. He agreed. We made a pact that he will be focusing on his health. I told him to read my previous blog about staying positive (http://pozziepinoy.blogspot.com/2011/11/how-to-stay-positive.html) and start doing them.

Yesterday afternoon, he texted me again. This time he was so happy. He texted me these:

         "Pozzie! Ang saya saya ko! My sisters accepted me. Very supportive sila
         at they'll help me out. I wanna thank you. Sobrang laking tulong ng chat natin e.
         Sana I can meet you one of these days to personally thank you. We can do this,
         we'll survive!"

          "Thank you! I'm done with the first step - acceptance. Next step is to keep
          myself busy and healthy."

I cried.

I was so happy. 

Most of the time when we have problems we sunk in to ourself. We blame ourselves for what ever has happened to us. We entertain a lot of negative thoughts that will drain us. We close our eyes and wait for the inevitable. We start to create our nightmares.

But there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. There is hope. All we have to do is to open our eyes, fight the darkness and climb up towards the light. Most of the time we need somebody to assist us, to assure us that everything will be ok. But the greater force should come from within. We need to be willing to help ourselves. We have to learn how to stand up, brush off the dirt and start acting on all the possible, productive things. We have to assert to ourselves that we are still alive and we are ready to live our lives once again. We have to, not only think, but to start moving, acting on goals and begin moving forward.

To you Miguel, I know life will be good. I know that everything will turn out right for you. Just keep that hope in your heart. Trust me, you'll sleep good at night and you'll wake up and see a great day, everyday!




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Friday, November 25, 2011

Its OK to Talk

I have HIV. I have AIDS. I had opportunistic infections. I was confined. I am on ARV's. I belong to an HIV hub.

I was confused. I was scared. I felt hopeless. I was at the bottom of the well.

I know what you're going through now. I've been there. I am here.

It's ok to reach out. It's ok to talk. I am here to listen.

email me at pozziepinoy@yahoo.com or send a twit to @pozziepinoy




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Yoga For Life

I am an advocate of fitness and I know healing of the mind and spirit heals the body too. Once the mind is free of stress and negative thoughts, it frees us to eternal positivity. 






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HIV Stops With Me!

Being Positive


I know I will get well soon. That is my attitude. I don't care how fast, but I know I will get there and I will get well. I have a lifetime to wait. But while I am waiting, I need to help myself. I need to strengthen my immune system. I need to do my part in helping to heal myself.

My weight has gone up to 170 pounds. Everybody's noticing it. Everybody's saying I am fat. I don't care. Here in the country if you're fat it is almost equivalent to being healthy. Well, not to me. If only they know why I wanted to gain weight. It's because of the notion that every HIV person will lose weight. I prepared myself for this so I tried fighting it by eating. Now I feel like I am about to explode. This is not healthy anymore.

Yesterday, I started to workout hard again. I am always into fitness so I know what I should do. I started to lift my previous weights in the gym and boy, I never felt that I lost my strength. I still can lift heavy. After leaving the gym, I felt good. Good, in the sense that I feel alive. I am back.

I want to go back to 150 again, go back to my good physique before. Although I like my current weight now. I just wish I am bulky with muscles again. I know that it is possible if I work hard for it. It's just a matter of time. I will just workout hard and do cardio but will try to lessen my carbs one more time.

What I know is that I love myself more now that I got the virus. I know my limitations but I know my great potentials as a person. I know I can help and I know I have an advocacy in life. I know the people who genuinely love me and I am grateful for that. I am also grateful that I am alive and my mission in life is to pay forward.

Being positive has done wonders in me. I know if you just change your attitude, you will feel the same way too.




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PhilHealth Application Form


I copied this from the PhilHealth website (PhilHealth) for all the non member pozzies. The hubs might require you to have one upon enrollment. Also, try to become a member now because by the end of next year, all ARV's and other medicines will be under PhilHealth.

I have heard from some people living with HIV/AIDS that it's harder to be discreet and to ask for their PhilHealth request signed in their company. Usually their HR personnel would pry as to what it is for and most pozzies ran out of excuses. So it is still best to have an individual paying program instead. 

The following may enroll with PhilHealth's Individually Paying Program:

  1. Self-employed Individuals - those who work for him/herself and is therefore both the employer and employee, including but not limited to the following:
    • Self-earning professionals like doctors and lawyers
    • Business partners and single proprietors / proprietresses
    • Actors, actresses, directors, scriptwriters and news reporters who are not under an employer-employee relationship
    • Professional athletes, coaches, trainers and jockeys
    • Farmers and fisherfolks
    • Workers in the informal sector such as ambulant vendors, watch-your-car boys, hospitality girls, tricycle drivers, etc.

  2. Separated from employment - those who were previously formally employed (with employer-employee relationship) and are separated from employment.
  3. Employees of international organizations and foreign governments based in the Philippines without agreement with PhilHealth for the coverage of their Filipino employees in the program.
  4. All other individuals not covered under the previous categories mentioned, including but are not limited to the following:
    • Parents who are not qualified as legal dependents, indigents or retirees/pensioners
    • Retirees who did not meet the minimum of 120 monthly premium contributions to qualify as non-paying members
    • Children who are not qualified as legal dependents
    • Unemployed individuals who are not qualified as indigents

Registration procedures and documentary requirements

  • Fill out PhilHealth Membership Registration form
  • Attach clear copy of supporting documents for qualified dependents to be declared
  • Registrant will be issued his/her PhilHealth Identification Number or PIN and the Member Data Record or MDR and shall be asked to pay the required premiums to the PhilHealth Cashier or at any of PhilHealth's accredited collecting banks

Premium requirements

  • Individually Paying Members (IPMs) earning an average monthly income of P25,000 and below pay P300 quarterly or P1,200 per year, while those earning above P25,000 pay P600 quarterly or P2,400 per year. Premium contributions may be paid quarterly, semi-annually and annually.
  • Schedule of payment:


QuarterlySemi-annualAnnual
Pay until the last working day of the quarter being paid for.

Example:
Period: January to March
Deadline: March 31
Pay until the last working day of the first quarter of the semester being paid for.

Example:
Period: January to June
Deadline: March 31
Pay until the last working day of the first quarter of the year being paid for.

Example:
Period: January to December
Deadline: March 31
















The Form: Download, print and fill this out and proceed to the nearest PhilHealth office. Bring the necessary requirements. You can send somebody to apply for you with proper authorization. You can get your ID, the membership registration and receipts in less than an hour depending on the number of applicants in the office.

http://www.philhealth.gov.ph/forms/membership/pmrf.pdf

Good luck!



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