House approves HIV-AIDS bill on final reading
The House of Representatives on Tuesday approved on third and final reading the bill strengthening policies preventing the spread of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) in the country.
The House Bill 6617 or Philippine HIV and AIDS Policy Act bill was approved by 188 members of the House.
There were no negative votes or abstentions.
Under the HIV-AIDS policy act, public and private employees, especially members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP), will be regularly provided with standardized basic information and instruction on HIV and AIDS.
This will highlight confidentiality in the workplace to reduce, if not totally eliminate, the stigma and discrimination against infected patients.
“Sa House Bill No. 6617, na sana ay maging Republic Act na, mas may pinagtibay at pinalakas na mga probisyon na may kinalaman sa confidentiality at right to privacy ng mga PLHIV,” Dinagat Islands Rep. Kaka Bag-ao, one of the bill’s principal authors, said in her speech during the session.
(In House Bill No. 6617, which hopefully becomes a Republic Act, there are strengthened provisions that are related to the confidentiality and right to privacy of the PLHIV.)
Bag-ao said that unlike in the previous legislations on HIV-AIDS, this version puts premium on the rights of those living with HIV-AIDS.
“Nakakatawa at nakakabahala na isang beses lang binabanggit ang ‘human rights’ sa lumang batas. Sa ating panukala, ‘di hamak na mas marami at mas makabuluhan ang pagbanggit sa karapatang pantao bilang haligi ng ating polisiya,” she said.
(It’s funny and alarming that “human rights” was only mentioned once in the old law. In our proposal, there are more instances and meaningful mention of human rights as pillars of our policy.)
The bill streamlines the Philippine National AIDS Council (PNAC) formed under Republic Act no. 8504, providing for a formulation of a six-year HIV and AIDS strategic to be periodically updated by the PNAC.
It will also raise awareness on HIV, AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections, “with the goal of reducing risky behavior, lowering vulnerabilities and promoting the human rights of persons living with the HIV.”
The measure also aims to promote the rights, welfare, and participation of persons living with HIV and the affected children, young people, families and partners of persons living with HIV.
The bill also mandates the Department of Education (DepEd), Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) to integrate basic and age-appropriate instruction on the causes, modes of transmission, impacts of HIV infection and ways of preventing the spread of HIV and AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections, human rights-based principles, and information on treatment, care, and support to promote stigma-reduction in relevant subjects taught in public and private learning institutions. /je
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