March 1, 2024

The Benguet General Hospital in La Trinidad, Benguet was recently added to the growing list of Department of Health-certified HIV treatment facilities in the country.

DOH-Cordillera regional coordinator for sexually transmitted infections Darwin Babon said BeGH passed the regional assessment on Dec. 28, then was endorsed to the DOH central office to be included in the list of DOH-certified HIV treatment facilities.   

As an HIV treatment hub, BeGH is expected to offer HIV treatment and management for both inpatient and outpatient clients.

“This development is expected to further strengthen the health system and referral network in Benguet,” Babon said.

In the region, newly added treatment facilities are “Abong ti Namnama” (House of Hope) in La Paz, Abra, and the Far North Luzon General Hospital and Training Center in Luna, Apayao, which will supplement existing hubs in the region such as the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center, Baguio City Health Services Office, and Notre Dame De Chartres Hospital in Baguio City.

These new hubs aim to enhance treatment services, especially for patients in remote areas, given their accessible locations.

Health authorities aim to equip each treatment hub with a rapid HIV diagnostic algorithm confirmatory laboratory to expedite release of test results, enabling immediate treatment for individuals testing positive.

The DOH-Cordillera reported a total of 1,034 HIV cases from 1984 to the present in the region, with 99 cases recorded from January to August 2023. Majority of these cases were attributed to transmission through sexual contact.

Babon said HIV treatment is free and is available in the various HIV treatment hubs as provided by the national government.

He said there is no local procurement for antiretroviral drugs and other drugs needed by PLHIVs, but the drugs are downloaded to the regional hubs based on the number of PLHIVs currently enrolled in each facility.

He said it is the goal of the DOH to increase testing and to look for the affected populations for them to know their HIV status and to link them to available and free treatments.

The Cordillera is joining the Joint United Nations Program on HIV and AIDS goal of 95-95-95 where 95 percent of the PLHIVs know their HIV status, and the 95 percent should be linked to lifesaving antiretroviral treatment, and 95 percent are virally suppressed meaning the treatment is working to reduce their viral load. Once the viral load becomes undetected, the virus will not be transmitted.

Here are the contact numbers of HIV treatment facilities in the region in Baguio City: Notre Dame de Chartres Hospital, St. Aloysius Gonzaga (HACT Clinic) – 0917-708-5433; Baguio City Health Services Office – 0985-251-5968; Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center, and the Balai Treatment Hub-0917-113-2184. – Ofelia C. Empian