The Philippine government is going to strengthen its response to Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) cases as President Rodrigo Duterte signed into law the Republic Act 11166, or the Philippine HIV and AIDS Policy Act of 2018.
The new law aims to be a landmark legislation to curb the prevalence of HIV and AIDS and reduce the stigma of people with such illness. According to a recent report by the Department of Health (DOH), the country has the highest percentage increase of HIV cases from 2010 to 2016 in Asia-Pacific Region. In addition, there were 954 new cases recorded last November 2018, where 18% are in an advanced stage, most of whom are male with an average age of 27 years old.
Some of the general provisions under this law as summarized by several news outfits are:
Mandates the government to allocate more funds to promote HIV prevention, diagnosis and treatment and require education about public health concerns in schools and communities
DOH would establish a program for free and accessible anti-retroviral treatment and medication for people living with HIV.
Philippine National AIDS Council (PNAC) will be reconstituted and streamlined to ensure the implementation of the country’s response to the HIV and AIDS situation.
Mandates the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation to develop a benefit package to include coverage for inpatient and outpatient Medical and diagnostic services, including medication and treatment.
Requires all schools to teach students of the causes, modes of transmission and prevention of HIV, AIDS and other sexually-transmitted infection.
The government will encourage voluntary HIV testing
HIV test will be compulsory if a person is charged with a violation of the Anti-Rape Law of 1997; when it is necessary to resolve issues under the Family Code of the Philippines; and if a person wants to donate blood.
Minors under the age category of 5 to under 18 could consent to voluntary HIV testing without the approval of their parents or guardians, as previously required under Republic Act 8504.
(Sources: CNN Philippines, Manila Standard, Manila Bulletin)