Gordon urges Senate to look for funds for HIV screening machines

Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 19 2019 09:46 PM

MANILA - Sen. Richard Gordon urged the Senate to look for fund source for purchase of nucleic acid test machines for HIV screening, after the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) slashed the Department of Health’s (DOH) budget request from P1.431 billion to only P293 million.

“We have to bite the bullet somehow. We either have safe, adequate affordable blood or we buy it and then charge high, which I don’t want to & to my mind it’s important that DBM be told that kahit papaano magkaroon tayo ng blood testing capability of the latest kind.

“Hindi tayo nakakasiguro ‘pag tumanggap kayo ng dugo na yung testing ng Red Cross o testing ng regular hospital dahil yan (virus) nagtatago yan sa regular testing ng 21 days. Pero sa nucleic acid test nakakapagtago yan ng 3 days. So which means it’s a question of closing the gap para hindi tayo malulusutan ng HIV at hindi tayo magbibigay ng HIV-tainted blood,” said Gordon, chairman and chief executive officer of the Philippine Red Cross which has the biggest blood bank in the country.

Gordon, during his plenary interpellation of DOH budget sponsor Sen. Bong Go on Tuesday, said a blood testing protocol needs to be in place for HIV screening.

No HIV test can detect the virus immediately after infection. A nucleic acid test looks for the virus in the blood.

According to HIV.gov, the test “looks for the virus and not the antibodies to the virus.”

“This test is very expensive and not routinely used for screening individuals unless they recently had a high-risk exposure or a possible exposure with early symptoms of HIV infection.”

Possible augmentations, realignments or new budget items may be proposed by senators during the period of amendments for the national budget bill.