Email 509: CD4 and VL Test Concerns

Posted by Pozziepinoy on 8:31 AM

dear pozziepinoy,

i was in my ARV for 2 months now , since my initial cd4 counts is 318 and they don't take my initial viral load.. my question is ,does the ARV meds are free? if it so, since i have philhealth, why do they did'nt gave me viral load test? i kept on asking the RITM staff and told me that the test of viral load comes 1 year after ARV meds are taken and it was a package of my philhealth..Dr Ditangco explain to us that we deducted or charge all the  
lab and meds quarterly,but how the meds are free and the laboratory like cd4 and viral load are given only once? succesive lab test to be done upon my discretion because i believe i can monitor my viral load every 3 months as if the said lab test will out of package, please help me explain if ARV comes free and the once or twice a year Cd4 count and annual viral load to be done and charged to philhealth,,why do they not include to  
the package which i think if meds are free, only the test will be charged on my health insurance, i dont have job at the moment and only rely my philhealth in my medication. Bottom line is, the said test is a must and be done respectivelly so where i can be in peace during this time of trials...

thank you so much and hoping for your response soon as you can!



Hi hidingmyself.

Thank you for your email. Thank you for sharing your concerns with us.

To avoid confusion, let me clarify your concerns with my other readers.

1. Under PhilHealth, if you pay it regularly, you will be able to get the benefits of the OHAT 
2. The CD4 test is FREE in RITM every 6 months. This is covered under PhilHealth's
    OHAT Package.
3. The Viral Load test is FREE every year under the OHAT Package if:
    a. You are on ARV's for a year
    b.  You do your transmittals every quarter (every 3 months when you get your 
         refill). This means that every time you go to the hub, you need to bring your proof of 
         payment (CF1 form or receipt of payment if on individual contributor). Missing to 
         transmit 1 will forfeit the previous transmittals and will start the cycle over again.
4. The medicines are FREE because they are under the grant by the Global Fund.They
    are not under PhilHealth's OHAT Package.
5. In RITM-ARG, one year contribution to PhilHealth will cover only:
    a. FREE initial baseline tests which include CD4 test, CBC, Chest Xray, Sputum/Tb test
    b. Semi-annual CD4 test and CBC
    c. Annual VL Test, if you had 4 complete PhilHealth Transmittals

If you go to other countries and in some private hubs, they would require quarterly CD4 and more regular VL. But they are pretty expensive, thus they can't be covered by PhilHealth anymore. In my case, in my 1st year of being a PLHIV, I had my initial VL which cost me P13,000 in The Medical City and P6,500 (then) in RITM (I took them twice for validation). I took the VL test because I want to know my baseline, however, I knew already that PhilHealth won't cover it so I just paid those 2 tests out of my own pocket.

For now, since you don't have a job and only rely on PhilHealth, just focus on getting healthy and strict compliance and adherence to ARVs. The goal of HIV treatment is having undetectable VL after 1 year of ARV's so make sure you do your best in getting there. 

I hope I was able to answer your concerns. Feel free to email me again if you have other questions.

Stay healthy,

NO PLHIV is alone with his or her struggle with HIV!"


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