Is HIV counseling necessary?

Before HIV testing, clients should undergo HIV counseling following the guidelines set in the Department of Health (DOH) Administrative Order No. 2017-0019 or the AO on Policies and Guidelines in the Conduct of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) Testing Services (HTS) in Health Facilities. The AO states that all HIV testing shall be accompanied by appropriate and high-quality counseling. Public and private facilities performing HIV tests shall provide pre- and post-HIV test counseling to all clients.

During testing and after getting the results of the HIV test, the client shall be given a chance to express any other concerns or needs about HIV and test procedures. The licensed and trained HIV counselor shall assist the client in completing the information in the required Department of Health form for DOH EB Form A I A-MC.

What should I do if the rapid antigen/antibody test shows a positive HIV result?

A confirmatory test should be done after receiving a positive HIV result. To ensure the accuracy of the test results, a confirmatory test is done in a Department of Health (DoH) certified confirmation laboratory. It would also ensure the confidentiality of test results as required by the Philippines health law, particularly Republic Act 11166 or the Act on Strengthening the Philippine Comprehensive Policy on Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) Prevention, Treatment, Care, and Support.

What are the HIV testing procedures in the Philippines?

In conformity with DOH’s Administrative Order No. 2017-0019, the testing procedure follows these steps.

  1. An HIV Counselor shall endorse the client for testing to a licensed and HIV-proficient medical technologist and submit the DOH-EB Form A I A-MC.
  2. The HIV-proficient medical technologist shall ensure that EB Form A I A-MC was correctly filled out and signed by the client before performing blood extraction.
  3. The HIV-proficient medical technologist shall ensure that HIV testing is performed according to the work instructions or standard procedure.
  4. Alternatively, a nurse phlebotomist may extract blood from the client and endorse the specimen to the HIV-proficient medical technologist for testing. Nurse phlebotomists are required to undergo training in specimen handling to prevent mislabeling, losing specimens, and other pre-analytical errors.
  5. If the result is nonreactive, the medical technologist and supervising Pathologist or physician shall provide validated official laboratory results of the HIV. The counselor or requesting physician request for post-HIV test counseling.
  6. If the result is reactive, the medical technologist shall repeat the test on the same blood sample, then send the specimen to NRL-SLH/SACCL or its designated confirmatory rHIVda laboratory for confirmatory testing. The reactive specimen must be refrigerated and sent within one week of extraction. However, if the reactive test is done in a confirmatory rHIVda site, then the medical technologist shall proceed to perform the confirmatory rHIVda.
  7. The medical technologist shall maintain a log of all necessary client information including the HIV test result before releasing the result to the HIV Counselor or requesting a physician for post- HIV test counseling.