Bill seeks to allow minors to undergo HIV testing sans parental consent
Following reports of increasing number of people with sexually transmitted diseases in the country, Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago filed a new bill seeking to allow minors to undergo testing for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and acquired deficiency syndrome (AIDS) even without parental consent.
In a statement on Friday, Santiago said the alarming spike in HIV cases in the country should prompt Congress to “address the gaps” in existing HIV and AIDS laws to spread awareness among the youth.
“The law requires minors to first obtain written parental consent before they can be tested for HIV. This limits the access of minors to potentially life-saving treatment and care, especially since many young people lack the finances to pay for healthcare,” she said, adding measures to eliminate social stigma should also be implemented.
Under the new bill, minors aged 15 to 17 will be allowed to give consent to HIV testing and treatment without permission from their parents provided that the minor is living independently, pregnant, already a parent or has suffered a miscarriage, has no contact with parents or guardians, has clinical condition that suggests infection with HIV; or provided that the knowledge of HIV status is in the best interest of the minor, or the minor is part of key populations as determined by the Philippine National AIDS Council.
Citing statistics on increasing cases of premarital sex among teenagers, the senator said: “Republic Act No. 8504 or the Philippine AIDS Prevention and Control Act of 1998 fails to consider that many minors already engage in sex and other risky behaviors that make them prone to HIV.”
Santiago also called on her fellow lawmakers to reform the Philippines’ “outdated” laws on HIV/AIDS.
“The current HIV and AIDS legal framework conflicts with efforts of the health sector to stop the spread of HIV,” she said.
In March, the Department of Health (DOH) said 18 new cases of HIV infections were being diagnosed every day, up from only nine cases daily in 2012.
Citing DOH data, Santiago also said 560 new HIV infections were recorded in April—42 percent higher than the same period last year. Thirty percent of the new cases covered the 15 to 24 years old bracket.
“Several countries have recognized the ‘mature minor principle,’ which considers the evolving capacities of a child to make decisions independently. This concept recognizes that some minors are mature enough to consent independently to medical procedures,” Santiago added. RC
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