Duque welcomes enactment of new policy act on HIV-AIDS
MANILA, Philippines — Health Secretary Francisco Duque III on Thursday welcomed the enactment of the Philippine HIV and AIDS Policy Act of 2018, noting that the number of HIV and AIDS cases in the country has increased by 140 percent last year.
Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) is caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
“Taun-taon meron tayong mga 30 cases everyday, na napi-pick up natin from our sentinel sites at ‘yan, mataas ‘yan. Ang ating bilang ngayon nasa 69,000 mula 1984 na cases. Tumaas ito ng mga 130-140 percent,” Duque said over a Radyo Inquirer 990AM interview.
“Maganda naman na napirmahan na ni Duterte at ako’y nagpapasalamat sa kanya at sa mga mambabatas na nag-pursige para maisulong ang panukalang ito,” he also said.
But the Health Chief said the country still has the lowest rate of HIV-AIDS cases in Southeast Asia.
“Pero hindi pwedeng balewalain ito… we have the highest rate of increase,” he stressed.
Duque said it would be better if mandatory testing was part of the law but he said this was opposed by legislators.
President Rodrigo Duterte signed the measure last Dec. 20, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel and Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Wednesday. The law replaced the 20-year-old Philippine AIDS Prevention and Control Act.
Dinagat Islands Rep. Kaka Bag-ao earlier said the measure would restructure the legal framework on HIV and AIDS by harmonizing it with evidence-informed strategies and approaches on prevention, testing, screening, treatment, care, and support.
The legislation, she added, also seeks to clarify the roles and responsibilities of state institutions involved in the HIV and AIDS response, and establish a roadmap on HIV and AIDS that has clear strategies, targets, operationalization framework, and funding.
Under the law, teenagers with the ages 15 to below 18 could volunteer for HIV testing, while those below 15 who are pregnant or who engage in high-risk behavior, could also choose to be tested but with the assistance of a licensed social worker or health worker.
A minor may also agree to HIV testing when the parents or legal guardian cannot be located or refused to give consent. In this case, consent would be obtained from a licensed social worker or health worker. /muf
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