Sunday, March 31, 2013

A friend's unpleasant experience at RITM-ARG

Hello guys! So, how was your Lenten break or vacation? I hope everyone had a peaceful respite from the daily grind and managed to reflect or observe the Holy Week as solemnly as possible.  Mine went well and I stayed home most of the time and went to church to attend the Lenten activities or rites.

It's back to work for me today and it's been a slow day so far so I took the opportunity to update this blog.

Early this morning, I texted a PLHIV-friend of mine to ask how he was and coincidentally, he was at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine-Aids Research Group (RITM-ARG) this morning for his regular lab tests (CD4 count, CBC, etc.) and he complained that he was informed only last Saturday, a non-working holiday, that he needs to submit or have Philhealth membership documents already for his lab tests.  He was pissed off because he was only told about it last Saturday but how could he gather them when it was a holiday.  So the nurse in-charge asked for the Philhealth documents when he went to RITM this morning and he explained that he could not submit them since he was notified only last Saturday.  Good thing, he was allowed to take the lab tests and the Philhealth documents will just have to follow.

To backtrack a little, PLHIVs who are not taking ARVs like my friend are not covered by the Philhealth package for PLHIVs so they would have to pay for all the necessary tests like CD4, CBC, etc.  I guess that policy has now changed because my friend is now required to submit Philhealth papers so his laboratory tests would be taken care of by the government agency-regardless of he/she is taking ARVs already.

Anyway, like all other PLHIVs who are enrolled at RITM and have previously complained of the shabby treatment from ARG staff and bad service they get from the RITM-ARG, my friend has decided that he wouldn't want to go through the same kind of situation next time and has decided on the spot that he will transfer to Philippine General Hospital (PGH)-Aids Research Group.  He also said he has had enough of a nurse at RITM-ARG "who acts as if she owns RITM."  As of my last text, he is gathering all his records to bring them to PGH already.

I can imagine the legwork and stress my friend went through this morning and in working on his transfer from RITM to PGH.  Stress is a big no-no for PLHIVs.

With the bad experience of my friend, I hope I do not suffer the same at RITM-ARG when I go there for my CD4 and other so-called anniversary tests on April 11.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Friday, March 15, 2013

An indication

With social media websites like Twitter or Facebook, one can enjoy anonymity he or she wants - especially if one is a PLHIV.  You can have one real account and an alter-ego account.  I only have one real account each in Facebook and Twitter. I don't keep an alternate account for my "other" self - the PLHIV side of me.

The number of poz accounts on Twitter, as I observed, have grown the past 2 years. I joined Twitter in 2009 so I'm marking my 4th year on that website this year.

The poz accounts I've seen do not have the real pic of the owners as expected. It's either a caricature or some other photo. That's understandable because PLHIVs would rather keep their identity secret, considering the stigma and discrimination attached to those positive of the virus.

The increase in the number of poz accounts in Twitter also seems to reflect the growing number of PLHIVs in the country. Creating an alternate account is good because PLHIVs still need to interact or communicate with others, albeit online, under the cloak of anonymity or without baring their status. Talking it over, ranting or simply expressing one's thoughts on Twitter, or even on a blog (like I do in this blog), can help a PLHIV move on and accept his or her status.

So, if you need someone to talk to, just drop me a line here or via my email account and I will reply. :)

Sunday, March 3, 2013

US baby "cured" of HIV. Too premature yet to celebrate

One of the trending topics on Twitter was HIV so I clicked on it and found news reports about an American baby girl who was "functionally" cured of HIV.  Here's the news item:

By the way, I am always online in Twitter and in YM than in Facebook.  That's why I came across that article.

Anyway, I read through the new report. While I am happy that the toddler was cured of HIV via early intervention after she was administered antiretroviral drugs within several hours after delivery, we should be cautious yet about whether it will work also for adults.

I've seen tweets from people celebrating the medical development but I dare say that it is too early to do so. While early detection and intervention can work in adults in such a way that it can stop HIV from progressing into AIDS, the fact is that there is yet no cure at all for the ailment or no medicine that can kill the virus in an infected person's system.

We have to remember that ARVs can control the virus from multiplying much but it cannot, I repeat, it cannot get rid of the virus from a PLHIV's system.

I will only celebrate once an infected adult had been completely cured of HIV after several tests and that cure can be commercially available to PLHIVs at an affordable price.