Senate approves HIV-AIDS bill on final reading
Senate Bill No. 1390 or the Philippine HIV AIDS Policy Act of 2018 was approved on third and final reading on Monday.
The bill seeks to reform the country’s 20-year-old legal framework on addressing Human Immunodeficiency Virus Infection and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS).
Senator Risa Hontiveros, who co-authored the bill with Senator JV Ejercito, said the bill will update Republic Act 8504 or the “Philippine AIDS Prevention and Control Act of 1998” as it would “introduce newer evidence-based, human rights-informed, and gender-transformative strategies to prevent and treat the epidemic.”
“This is an important victory in our fight to reverse the tide of the HIV-AIDS epidemic in the country. We now have a stronger and modern policy tool to appropriately respond to this problem,” Senator Risa Hontiveros said in a statement.
The House Representatives approved its version of the bill in December 2017.
A bicameral conference committee from both chambers of Congress will now move the legislation for ratification so the President could sign it into law.
The bill also seeks to allocate more funds on HIV prevention, diagnosis and treatment, and require “up-to-date education about HIV and AIDS in schools, communities, workplaces, and vulnerable areas.”
“At a time when stigma overrules government policies on this important health issue, we need to underscore that the foundation of curbing HIV must be based on the protection of human rights,” Hontiveros said.
The Philippines has one the highest incidence of HIV infections in the world. According to Department of Health, 11,103 new infections were recorded in 2017.
“The time to be alarmed is now. The time to act is now,” she said. /ee