Strengthened HIV-AIDS policy nears becoming a law
MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines is set to have a strengthened policy on preventing and controlling Human Immunodeficiency Virus Infection and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS) after both chambers of Congress passed the measure.
Voting 14-0, the Senate on Monday, May 21, approved Senate Bill No. 1390 authored by Senators Risa Hontiveros and Senate health committee chairman Joseph Victor Ejercito. The House of Representatives passed a similar measure in December 2017.
The bill would update Republic Act 8504, or the “Philippine AIDS Prevention and Control Act of 1998," to incorporate lessons from the current HIV response.
The proposed measure also seeks “to introduce newer evidence-based, human rights-informed, and gender transformative strategies to prevent and treat the epidemic.”
Under the bill, the government is mandated “to improve access to HIV services, especially for key populations and vulnerable communities, and ensure social and financial risk protection for those who need to access these services.”
It also provides for the allocation of more funds on HIV prevention, diagnosis and treatment, and require “up-to-date education about HIV and AIDS in schools, communities, workplaces and vulnerable areas.”
"This is our way of updating the government framework on HIV-AIDS. We need a scientific, medical, human rights-based and inclusive policy to fully address the problem,” Hontiveros said.
The bill will also compel government to “enhance anti-discrimination protection to promote the human rights of Filipinos living with HIV, key populations and vulnerable communities, and providers of HIV services.” (READ: Orgies and Tinder: Millennials are having sex, some with a deadly price)
While the global trend in HIV incidents is declining, she said, the Philippines is one of the only 9 countries in the world that registered more than 25 percent increase in HIV incidence. (READ: PH has 'fastest growing' HIV epidemic in Asia Pacific – DOH)
The Department of Health has recorded a total of 11,103 cases in 2017, which is higher than the 9,264 cases reported in 2016; 7,831 in 2015; 6,011 in 2014; 4,814 in 2013 and 3,338 in 2012. – Rappler.com