Senate OKs bill seeking to strengthen HIV-AIDS policy

ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 21 2018 06:23 PM

MANILA - The Senate on Monday approved on third and final reading a bill seeking to reform the country's 20-year-old legal framework and approach towards the prevention and control of Human Immunodeficiency Virus Infection and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS).

Senate Bill No. 1390 will update Republic Act 8504, or the Philippine AIDS Prevention and Control Act of 1998.

It will incorporate lessons from current HIV response, as well as "introduce newer evidence-based, human rights-informed, and gender transformative strategies to prevent and treat the epidemic."

"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," Senator Risa Hontiveros, one of its authors, said.

Under SB 1390, 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."

The bill will also pave the way for the allocation of more funds for HIV prevention, diagnosis and treatment, and will require "up-to-date education about HIV and AIDS in schools, communities, workplaces and vulnerable areas."

The bill, likewise, will 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." 

Health officials said the number of HIV/ADIS cases in the country continues to rise with the Department of Health (DOH) recording a total of 11,103 cases in 2017. Based on records, the 11,103 new infections seen in 2017 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, DOH said.