In a virtual event recently, the Department of Health (DOH) said people with HIV should not be afraid of COVID-19 vaccines.
Health Spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire said they could get vaccinated as long as they have the clearance of their doctors.
“The current COVID vaccines being given in the country are safe for people living with HIV, as these are made from inactivated viruses or parts of the virus,” she said.
Alias ”Louie,” who has been living with HIV for 8 years and is also a COVID-19 survivor, did not hesitate to get vaccinated.
“Kung magka-COVID man ako, ‘di tayo dadating sa critical stage. So ine-encourage ko ang lahat ng kapuwa kong persons living with HIV na magpabakuna na sila,” he said.
So far, 855 Filipinos are HIV positive, based on data from the DOH.
The department has also ensured that the privacy of persons with HIV is protected.
The DOH also advises those living with HIV to contact groups willing to provide free legal advice and guidance in the event of discrimination.
The DOH remembered those who died due to AIDS complications in conjunction with the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial Day commemoration. According to the agency, 4,574 patients have been reported dead from 1984 to 2020.
Those with HIV urged to get vaccinated vs COVID-19
As of December 2020, HIV testing has dropped to 61%, while those undergoing treatment initiations have also dropped by 28%.
It is estimated that there will be 111,400 Filipinos living with HIV by 2020, but only 70% of them are aware of their condition due to many’s refusals undergoing testing. About 61% of them are now undergoing ‘antiretroviral therapy’ to prolong their lives.
As part of priority group A3, the DOH advised HIV positives to first seek clearance from their doctors before undergoing COVID-19 vaccination.
Data showed that male-to-male sex remained the dominant mode of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) transmission in the Philippines.