In an attempt to educate, raise awareness and consequently alleviate alarming situations with the continuing rise of HIV infections in the Philippines, Senator Meriam Defensor-Santiango proposed new senate bills that will amend existing rules and guidelines described in RA 8504 or the Philippine AIDS Prevention and Control Act of 1998. Senate bill 186 or the Philippine HIV and AIDS Policy and Plan Act and Senate Bill 2728 or Stop AIDS in Prisons Act is designed not only to promote awareness and treatment programs, it is also designed to lower the level of stigma and further educate the people about HIV and the condition that it would bring with AIDS.
In relation to the matter, The Philippines Department of Health (DOH) has expressed its full support to the amendments, Dr. Jose Gerard Belimac, program manager of the DOH Philippine National AIDS Council cited that Senator Defensor-Santiago’s amendments are timely since the rise of HIV and AIDS cases in the country has since been increasing year after year.
With Senate bill 186 or the Philippine HIV and AIDS Policy and Plan Act, it will strengthen current mandates as well as enforce strategies backed by evidence as well as new approaches to prevention, treatment, care and support. The Senate Bill 2728 or Stop AIDS in Prisons Act on the other hand helps to bring awareness about the disease in jails and provide comprehensive treatments to infected patients while preventing the spread of the infection among inmates, wardens and other jail personnel.
In addition to that, Senator Defensor-Santiago hopes to further update existing laws to allow minors as young as 15 to 17 years of age to undergo HIV testing and treatment without the need of a parent’s consent. That is if the minor is living independently from their parents, pregnant, already a parent or someone suffering from miscarriage, a minor with no contact with their parents or guardians or a minor with signs and symptoms of an HIV infection.
From January to April this year, the DOH has recorded around 2,409 of HIV/AIDS cases around the country with 27 per cent of that total number came from individuals with ages that ranges from 15 to 24 years old. These records also shows that infections are prevalent with individuals who engages in male to male sexual contact and injecting drug users. What is more alarming however is that the age group mostly infected with the virus lately are often found in the younger generations and it prompted the DOH to take a course of action before they get worst. In February this year alone, the DOH have reported a total number of 646 HIV cases in a course of four weeks making it as the highest reported number of cases in a month in the history of HIV in the country.
- PH senator: HIV-AIDS law needs reforms(ireport.cnn.com)
- DOH backs bill allowing minor to get HIV, AIDS tests without parental consent(newsinfo.inquirer.net)
- WHO: PH has fastest growing HIV epidemic in the world(rappler.com)