Butuan City’s HIV treatment hub delivers medicines to your doorstep

BUTUAN CITY (PIA) – The Butuan Medical Center (BMC) – Palliative and Wellness  Care Center, a treatment hub for persons living with human immunodeficiency virus (PLHIV), continues to implement its ARVider program to ensure that their patients get unhampered  access to treatment.

ARVider is a door-to-door delivery of antiretroviral (ARV) drugs for HIV, and other treatment requests necessary for the medication of the PLHIV to their residence or preferred pick-up location.

It addresses the concerns of PLHIVs who are unable to visit the facility during office hours to claim their free medicines.

In an interview with the Philippine Information Agency (PIA), Oscar Clint K. Villanueva, nurse of the HIV and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) Core Team, or HACT, shared that the ARVider started as an initiative during the COVID-19 pandemic when there was lockdown and travel restrictions impeded the continuous treatment of PLHIVs.

Oscar Clint K. Villanueva, nurse of the HIV and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) Core Team, narrated how the home delivery service of the Butuan Medical Center (BMC) - Palliative and Wellness Care Center has helped HIV patients in the city and nearby towns receive their timely medication and other treatments despite their hectic schedules, distance and other challenges. (Photo of PIA-Caraga)

“Sa panahon sa pandemic, lisod kaayo sa mga PLHIV kay makopromiso ang confidentiality kay sa checkpoint pangutan-on sila sa mga pulis ug pangayuan pa gani ug medical record,” Villanueva said.

[During the pandemic, it was very difficult for the PLHIV as their privacy gotcompromised because at the checkpoint, police officers would ask probing questions and sometimes would require them to present medical documents.]

“With HIV/AIDS remains a sensitive concern, and there is still social stigma. Most of them opted to stop the treatment because they were afraid that their identity would be revealed and this would worsen their health condition; thus, we came up with this solution,” the nurse added.

Since the program received positive feedback from the patients and their families, the treatment hub decided to continue the practice after the pandemic to better deliver this healthcare service to this vulnerable group in society.

The ARVIder is a program of the Butuan Medical Center - Palliative and Wellness Care Center designed to deliver HIV medication to patients. This program ensures the treatment of patients is unhampered, as this is significant to their health recovery. Photo courtesy of BMC- Palliative and Wellness Care Center.

Villanueva said the driver of the ARVider is an employee of the treatment hub, so the personnel is accountable for any violations and takes ownership and responsibility for the patient’s profile and privacy  as the rider is bound by a contract of confidentiality.  

He also disclosed that for PLHIV to avail of this delivery service, they need to message the official Facebook page of the treatment hub or call their hotline number.

“Lately, we are receiving an average of 10 requests per week, and we are happy that utilization of ARVider has improved,” Villanueva said.

“Unhampered treatment plays a significant role in the recovery of the PLHIV, as well as an effective method of prolonging their life. We provide free  medicines and walk-in and online consultations. The facility is trying its best to have a stable supply of ARV from DOH and LGU funding, so there is no more reason why PLHIV should delay or stop their treatment,” he underscored.

The Butuan Medical Center (BMC) – Palliative and Wellness Care Center, the pioneer HIV treatment hub in Caraga Region, has expanded its services for the PLHIV. It is now a confirmatory testing center, and its hospital has a dedicated room for inpatient PLHIV, equipped with five beds and a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter.

The treatment hub perseveres to bring its services closer to the patients, as its next project on home service testing will be implemented soon. (RLE/PIA-Caraga)

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