SouthCot’s HIV lab to be fully operational within 2021

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 8 April) – The provincial government of South Cotabato is targeting to fully operate within the year its newly established confirmatory testing laboratory for the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).

The South Cotabato Provincial Hospital in Koronadal City, where the HIV laboratory is situated. Photo courtesy of Google Street View

John Arlo Codilla, infectious diseases coordinator of the Integrated Provincial Health Office (IPHO), said they are currently working on the approval by the Department of Health of the license-to-operate (LTO) of its Certified Rapid HIV Diagnostic Algorithm Confirmatory Laboratory or CrCL.

He said the facility is an extension of their HIV/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome or AIDS Core Team (HACT) Clinic, which is situated at the South Cotabato Provincial Hospital compound in Koronadal City.

“The CrCL is now in place and we’re hoping that its [LTO] will be approved soon so we can fully expand our services,” he said in a press conference in Koronadal City on Wednesday.

Codilla was referring to the “one-stop shop” at the HACT Clinic, which provides treatment care and counseling services for HIV/AIDS patients.

He said they already conducted initial trial tests at the CrCL and it has been very beneficial so far for their newly-admitted clients.

The clinic was able to detect early cases of HIV and provide immediate intervention to the patients, he said.

“We can now get confirmatory results through our laboratory in just 15 minutes,” Codilla said.

Prior to the establishment of the laboratory, the IPHO had to send screened samples for confirmation to the Sexually Transmitted Diseases/AIDS Cooperative Central Laboratory and the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine in Metro Manila.

The HACT Clinic, which opened in June 2016, is considered as the first-ever HIV/AIDS treatment hub in the country that is funded and operated by a local government unit.

The facility, which has a year-round testing and treatment program, is accredited by the Department of Health and the Philippine Health Insurance Corp.

As of Tuesday, the clinic caters to a total of 868 HIV/AIDS patients, with 838 males and 30 females, from the province and the neighboring areas. (MindaNews)