Hontiveros: HIV test can spell difference between life and death
Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros underwent a voluntary human immunodeficiency virus or HIV testing at the Senate on Tuesday not only to raise awareness about the disease but also to encourage the public to take the test, which she said is free in social hygiene clinics.
An HIV test, Hontiveros said, is a test that can spell the difference between life and death.
“Importante po sa lahat ng individual na maging bukas sa voluntary HIV test lalo na sa ngayon sabi po ng ating mga health authorities 1 out of 2 people actually HIV positive ay hindi nila alam so kelangan natin ang yung mga ganitong information tungkol sa ating kaligtasan para iligtas ang mga buhay natin at saka maging malusog tayo,” she said in an interview after undergoing the test.
(It’s important that all individuals should be open to undergo a voluntary HIV test especially now that our health authorities are saying that 1 out of 2 people with HIV are not aware of their disease so we need this kind of information for our safety, so we can save our lives and become healthy)
The senator lamented the stigma attached to HIV, an infection that can lead to the breakdown of the body’s immune system through Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS), and HIV testing.
“We need to break down this barrier that prevents Filipinos from getting tested, especially that 1 in 2 persons living with HIV is not diagnosed,” Hontiveros, chairperson of the Senate committee on health and demography, in a separate statement.
If not curbed, she said, there will be 133,000 people living with HIV in the Philippines by 2022. She said 80 percent of new infections come from men having sex with men and the media age of those diagnosed with HIV is below 35 years old.
The senator also cited the Department of Health’s report that there are 25 new cases of HIV infection everyday in the Philippines.
She said the increase on the rate of HIV incidence in the country is “alarming as global HIV incidence is decreasing.”
Hontiveros is also pushing for the lowering of age of those who should be allowed to take the HIV test, from the present 18 years old to 15 years old and above.
“Isa po sa mga reporma na isusulong namin sa HIV/AIDS law ay pati mga kabataang mamayan mula edad 15 ay voluntaryo na kumuha sila ng HIV test,” she said.
“Kung bubuksan na ang HIV testing mula edad 15, hindi na mangangilangan ng parental consent,” she further said.
(One of the reforms we are pushing for in the HIV/AIDS law is that citizens as young as 15 years old to voluntarily take an HIV test.
If HIV testing would be opened to youth as young as 15 years old, then they would no longer need parental consent.)
She said the young people are at the losing end of the fight against HIV, citing some of adolescents’ “risky behavior,” which she said could lead to the spread of the virus.
“We need information that leads to action. Behavioral change comes from people who are well-informed. As long as we discuss HIV and the need to be tested in hushed voices, more people are risking their lives,” Hontiveros added./rga
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