This is an old blog. This issue has been resolved as of May, 2014
It was around November to December when we first heard the rumor that the usual 3 month ARV supply of PLHIVs will be cut down to a month’s supply. I personally never gave this much thought since there was no official advice coming from the treatment hub or the Department of Health.
A few weeks back, news went viral when PLHIVs started reporting that they were in fact (a) being issued a 15 day cycle of their ARVs and (b) they were made to come back for refill every 15 days thereafter. Some were given the options to use a local courier so they can receive their meds through mail, however, they will need to pay for the courier’s fee.
Last Feb 13th, I went to the hub for a refill and I got my usual 3.5months worth of ARV, that is not the case however for those on Lami–Teno as they were only given 15 days worth. I didn’t really get that much affected at first except that I knew there was going to be a lot of complaints from my peers, until I went to the treatment hub last Feb 18th to have my rashes checked. The queue at the consult area was noticeably long, and the consult did not start until after lunch because the doctor had a conference, so the nurse said.
I saw a few old acquaintances and at least two guys were telling me they came from the province and they had to come back that day for their 2nd 15days worth of ARV. It wasn’t a “new” news for me, I offered to get their next 15 days the next time around so they can meet me up somewhere north of Manila.
Feb 17, 2014
The online PLHIV community finally lost their patience over the issue. Some were mad. Some were anxious. A lot of the guys were in fear. Some wanted to go to the media.
Why these emotions?
A lack of understanding of the issue.
Ever since the controlled release of ARV was implemented, there was not an official statement from the hubs. I did hear of someone mentioning that they had a memo at SAGIP-PGH about the controlled issuance. But no one really made an official statement to the community.
People speculated and assumed— simply because they didn’t know what was going on. The most common rumor was that the meds were on hold at the Customs for whatever reason.
A lack of a clear contingency plan to cushion the effect of the 15 day issuance.
It is a fact that meds were being issued on a 15 day cycle, there were however no action plans to cushion the impact. Most common suggestion was to have a drop off point where people can pick their meds up like RITM Satellite in Manila & Klinika Bernardo in Quezon City.
YES, IT’S NOT EASY TO COME UP WITH DROP OFF POINTS considering the logistics and ARV/Records security involved. People will still talk and insist and want to have an alternative.
Or maybe someone should have talked to them to begin with.
I was not mad. I can never be angry to the very people who saved my life in 2010.
I was not in fear. Selfishly I knew my combo was not at risk. But more than my selfish logic, I knew that the ARVs were just delayed, there was not a hold on the issuance of—rather a controlled issuance while awaiting Customs release.
I was frustrated.
I do not and did not fully understand the issue.
- Is this an issue of the failure to forecast and project the stocks?
- Is this an issue of failure to attend to the projections at hand?
- Is this a budget issue?
- Is this a supplier’s issue?
- Is this a Customs issue?
Is this reflective of how the system works for our PLHIV community?
There was no timeline given to the community.
I was caught in the middle of nowhere as we were told not to approach the media as this may affect future funding.
We have a voice and no one is there to hear us.
We have ears and no one is there to say anything to us.
I respect and understand every drop of anxiety that comes out of the hearts of my peers. I will never deem these reactions as over-reacting or blowing things out of proportions.
I was sad.
Sad to see people seemingly begging for help since their hub has declared zero stocks as of February 17.
Sad to see peers fighting as they view things from different points.
Sad to know that at least two HIV/AIDS NGOs did not know anything about the issue.
I care for my peers who fear for their lives, on top of their fear of disclosure, of their future, of themselves.
I care for my peers who want to understand but have nothing to base their understanding on.
I care for HIV and AIDS Activists and Advocates wanting to push for a better system for people of the same status.
I care for the frontliners of the hubs who can’t seem to give answers themselves.
Will this happen again?
My answer: Why did this happen in the first place?
And if this happens again?
I wish and hope that:
- The hubs seek the assistance of the community based organizations to help disseminate necessary information for the community
- The hubs come out with an official and a uniform announcement
- The hubs let the community in, the PLHIV community.
Has the issue been resolved?
As of 7 in the evening, February 18, 2014, no news yet.
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