DOH backs bill allowing minor to get HIV, AIDS tests without parental consent
The Department of Health (DOH) expressed support, on Sunday, for a proposed measure in the Senate that would allow minors to undergo testing for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) without parental consent.
Dr. Jose Gerard Belimac, program manager of the DOH Philippine National AIDS Council, said the measure being pushed by Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago would be timely since new HIV and AIDS infections among the youth has been on the upswing.
“We support any measure that will address removing barriers to access to health services,” Belimac told reporters in an interview.
The Framework on the Rights of the Child recognizes the right of minors to access correct information and services, including those pertaining to HIV and AIDS, according to Belimac.
Last week, Santiago underscored the need for such a measure, citing the disturbing spike in HIV cases in the country. She added that the latest figures should prompt Congress to “address the gaps” in the current HIV and AIDS laws to spread awareness among the youth.
Existing laws require minors to first obtain written parental consent before they can be tested for HIV. This has limited the access of minors to potentially life-saving treatment and care, since many young people did not have sufficient money to pay for healthcare, noted Santiago.
Under the new bill, minors aged 15 to 17 will be allowed to undergo HIV testing and treatment without permission from their parents.
But it cites several conditions: the minor should be living independently, or pregnant, already a parent or has suffered a miscarriage, has no contact with parents or guardians and has clinical condition that suggests infection with HIV.
No consent would be needed if the minor is also part of the key populations determined by the Philippine National AIDS Council, according to the new bill.
Current records show that the population at risk are males having sex with males and injecting drug users.
From January to April this year, the DOH has recorded 2,409 new HIV-AIDS cases. At least 27 percent or 650 of these cases were 15 to 24 years old. The health department observed an increase of HIV infections in this age group, from 12 percent between 2005 and 2009 to 26 percent between 2010 and 2015.
“It is alarming in the sense that the youth should now really be protected from HIV,” said Belimac.
In February alone, 646 new cases were reported, the highest number reported in a month “in the history of HIV in the country,” said the DOH. SFM
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