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People living with HIV in the Philippines worry about Anti-Retro Viral (ARV) shortage.

Another news is making noise online due its alarming topic – ARV scarcity.

What about Anti-retroviral or simple ARV?

It is not a cure but this is simply a treatment for HIV or AIDS and it can control people with HIV from becoming ill for many years. The therapy consists of drugs that have to be taken every day (  but it may varies depending of the PLHIV) for the rest of someone's life. To be aware of more about treatment you need to have some knowledge of HIV and AIDS.

HIV is a virus and like other viruses when it is in a cell in the body it produces new copies of itself. With these new copies, HIV can go and infect other previously healthy cells. It is easy for HIV to spread quickly through the billions of cells in the body if it is not stopped from reproducing itself. Antiretroviral treatment for HIV infection consists of drugs which work against HIV infection itself by slowing down the reproduction of HIV in the body. The drugs are often referred to as: antiretroviral ,anti-HIV drugs or HIV antiviral drugs

Causes of Scarcity:

1. As of  Jan 30, 2010  reported in TV patrol

2. As of  last quarter of 2013,  The founder of Outrage Magazine, Michael David dela Cruz Tan revealed on his article about the “The ‘missing’ ARVs of the Philippines”. He stated that on her article that the very reason of scarcity it’s because - the delay of procurement of such medicine. But Dr. Jose Gerard Belimac, head of DOH’s National AIDS/STI Prevention and Control Program denied ““for now, all the ARVs that we promised to provide to the patients are available.”

3. As of September 4, 2014 – as reported in ABS-CBN.  After a month of being held by the Bureau of Customs (BOC), almost 1,000 boxes of antiretroviral drugs for people with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) may soon be released.

This is very alarming because aside from quarter of 2013 wherein DOH denied about the delay, they (DOH) also denied that there were no delayed of the delivery as per Philippine Daily Inquirer, May 17, 2014.

Meanwhile, Patrick  King Pascual , writer reported that - In a letter sent to the Health Sec. Enrique Ona, HIV activist Pozzie Pinoy of the Red Ribbon Project quoted RITM's Dr. Rosanna Ditangco for saying that if the ARVs that are currently being held by the BoC will not be released by Friday, September 5, then "HIV treatment will totally stop all over the country."

“I am pleading and begging you, on behalf of the entire PLHIV community and the entire country, to please look into this matter immediately and find a quick solution to this problem. What we can do now is to call for the attention of your department, and of the BOC to take action before this gets out of hand,” Pozzie Pinoy appealed to the DOH and the BOC to do something about this life and death situation.

Patrick also reported that last August 26, different LGBTQIA organizations from all over the Philippines – including Ladlad Caraga Inc., The AIDS Treatment Action Group Philippines (TATAG), REDx, Northern Mindanao Advocates, and The Well Philippines – wrote a letter to the BOC for it to provide a clearer picture on the following issues:

  1. What and how much were the duties and taxes imposed for the particular shipment?
  2. What is the basis of computation for duties and taxes levied against the imported ARVs?
  3. What is the cause of delay for the release of life saving ARVs to DOH?
  4. Is the agency taking any steps to expedite the release of ARVs to DOH?

To date, no response has been received, no matter the urgency of the issue.

Jonathan D. Orbuda, an Economics graduate and now an occasional motivational speaker, was a writer way back in college, when he served as a section editor (2007-2008) of The Pillar Group of Publications. But beyond this, he established a blogsite detailing traveling sans (much of the) frills. Since finishing his schooling, he already worked for a bank and the BPO industry, among others. But his burning passion remains writing, and so he now travels as much as he can to discover what this world (and life) has to offer. As he keeps stressing: “Live life the most out of it ” You can email him atilovetansyong(at)gmail(dot)com for any concern , or connect him at Google+ 

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