On RITM-ARG CD4 Test

Posted by Pozziepinoy on 8:55 PM
Hi there,

Good day! First and foremost, I would like to thank Project Red Ribbon in behalf of all the HIV postive here in the Philippines. The devotion you have showed to people living with HIV is unparalleled. 

I have been positive since November 2013, since I have received my false positive result. I have officially been diagnosed last February 2014. My treatment hub is at Klinika Bernardo in Cubao QC.  I have been taking my ARVs since then, namely Lamivudine-Zidovudine and Effavirenz. Thank God I have already get used to the effects of Effavirenz. The road wasn't easy, but I have learned to live with this condition and taking things positively.


Anyhow, I have been informed that Philhealth has cut off the benefits that we receive. Since my anniversary will be next month, I am due for my annual Viral Load count and CD4 count. I was informed that CD4 count is no longer included. May I ask how true is this? I visit RITM every 6 months for my CD4 count, and if this is the case, I am forced to pay for my CD4 count. May I ask how much it costs at RITM? I am weighing my options if I should try a private hospital instead, or probably transfer my treatment hub at MMC since RITM is a bit far from where I live (I live in Quezon City). Do you have any idea of the amount of the services offered at MMC and for the ARVs that I am taking?

I apologised for the many questions I have asked since I am very desperate of the information. I am a bit nervous of the amount I have to alot monthly for my exams and for my medicine. Thank you so much for taking time in reading this long email. More power to Project Red Ribbon!

XXX

POZZIEPINOY’S RESPONSE

Hi XXX,

Thank you for your email. Thank you for the kind words you wrote about Project Red Ribbon. Helping people living with HIV is our mission, may it be just answering concerns here in the website, listening to questions or talking to clients on our hotline numbers, assisting our clients for their medical needs, visiting the sick and the needing in the hospital or in their homes, providing group therapy during our support group talks, teach during our skill workshops, provide and refer clients to livelihood programs and establish camaraderie during our team building activities and events. 

I am happy that you are empowered now. I am glad that you have established a positive outlook in life as you went along with your journey.. with your treatment and your life as a PLHIV. I do hope that those who have been newly diagnosed get the same courage and positivity that you have right now.

With regards to your questions, let me answer them in the order that you asked them.

1. PhilHealth termination? It is not true that PhilHealth benefits have been discontinued. Project Red Ribbon is a strong partner of PhilHealth and we will be the first one to know if there are changes in the policy of the agency. For the information of all the readers, TRR has pioneered certain provisions in the new PhilHealth guidelines that strengthened the quality of delivery of service to PLHIV.

2. CD4 is no longer included? In RITM, there was a change in policy that CD4 every 6th months won't be part of the tests anymore. With our dialogue with Dr. Ditangco, the head of RITM-ARG, she confirmed the new policy, however, instead of the semi-annual CD4 test, it will be replaced by the Viral Load test at 6th month and 1 year after enrolment. The policy is when the VL test result becomes undetectable at 1 year, the VL test will be given every year after. CD4 is given only during the baseline testing for screening purposes if ARV treatment will be initiated. Dr. Ditangco said that this is in line with the WHO guidelines on HIV treatment.

CD4, according to Dr. Ditangco, is not a reliable test for treatment success, unlike the VL test. Thus the biggest hub in the Philippines changed their policy. However, when prescribed, both CD4 and VL are still covered by the out-patient HIV and AIDS Treatment (OHAT) package of PhilHeath and therefore are free in RITM-ARG as long as the client is an active member of the insurance agency.

XXX, since you are coded in RITM-ARG with Klinika Bernardo as its satellite treatment hub, you don't need to worry about the cost of these laboratory test. The hubs thinks of your welfare and this progressive move is its new direction, which will save time and extra cost.

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TRR HIV Hotline Numbers 


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If you want to join a private HIV support group in Facebook, please add our Online Care Manager, Tomasito Ang Suta, or our Program Coordinator, Keren Augustin C. Blances and request to be added in the group. We have a lot of PLHIV, counselors, HIV doctors, advocates and supporters who you can talk to.

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


Stay healthy,
Pozziepinoy






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