Private sector access to treatment sought amid rising youth HIV cases

Helen Flores, Mayen Jaymalin - The Philippine Star
Private sector access to treatment sought amid rising youth HIV cases
Participants including Philippine health official Enrique Tayag (front 3rd R) take part in the "walk to end AIDS" event to mark World Aids Day in Manila on December 2, 2023. HIV infections are soaring in the Philippines, with experts blaming online dating, poor sex education and conservative attitudes in the deeply religious country for fuelling the spread of the virus.
AFP / Ted Aljibe

MANILA, Philippines — Alarmed by the rising cases of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) among the country’s younger individuals, Health Secretary Ted Herbosa is pushing to make antiretroviral drugs (ARV) available in the private sector.

“Because now ARV is only available through PhilHealth (Philippine Health Insurance Corp.). You can’t buy it... Probably make it available in the private sector,” he said.

Herbosa cited the availability of tuberculosis drugs in private pharmacies.

“If there are no available medicines in the TB center, go to a pharmacy and if you have a prescription, you can buy it. You use your own money. These are things we’re thinking about,” he said.

The DOH is also looking at a program where minors with HIV could get antiretroviral treatment with a doctor or guardian’s consent.

The DOH secretary noted 55 new HIV cases are recorded daily in the country, the highest in the world.

“The scariest part is really the increase with the very young… Because they’re all young, exposure on the internet, freer gender choices,” he said.

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