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Go, Hontiveros laud signing of HIV and AIDS Policy Act

January 10, 2019 - Thursday 6:01 PM by Jon Joaquin

Former Special Assistant to the President Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go on Wednesday lauded President Rodrigo Duterte’s signing into law of the “Philippine HIV and AIDS Policy Act,” saying it shows government’s commitment to protecting Filipinos from HIV and AIDS.

“This shows how much President Duterte cares for the welfare of our citizens. He knows the grave danger posed by HIV and AIDS, and so government took the necessary steps to protect the Filipino people,” Go said in a statement.

The bill seeks to strengthen the national response epidemic by reforming the country’s 20-year-old legal framework on addressing HIV and AIDS.

Go said the enactment of the measure is timely, citing data from the Department of Health (DOH) that show that as of August 2018, the number of new HIV cases per day has more than doubled over the past five years.

The DOH recorded 1,047 new cases of HIV infection during that month. DOH data also indicated that nearly one in three cases of HIV infection involved those between 15 and 24 years old.

As part of the more aggressive campaign against HIV/AIDS, the measure provides that minors aged 15 years and older will no longer need their parents' consent before they receive tests for HIV.

Go also said HIV/AIDS should not be treated  exclusively as a medical problem as it affects individuals in their productive working age.

Under the law, the Philippine National AIDS Council (PNAC) will be constituted and streamlined to ensure effective implementation of the country’s response to the HIV and AIDS epidemic.

The measure also mandates the formulation of a six-year National Multi-Sectoral HIV and AIDS Strategic Plan or an AIDS Medium-Term Plan to be periodically updated by the PNAC.

In addition, the measure requires the implementation of an education program for HIV and AIDS prevention, aimed at providing the public with relevant information to reduce risky behavior, lower vulnerabilities, and promote the rights of persons living with HIV.

The law also calls for a program that will provide free and accessible anti-retroviral treatment to all indigents living with HIV who are enrolled in the program.

Even staunch Duterte critic Senator Risa Hontiveros welcomed the President’s move.

“As principal author and co-sponsor of the Philippine HIV and AIDS Policy Law, I am happy that the measure was finally signed into law by the President. It is a great way to start the new year,” Hontiveros said in a statement.

“With the signing into law of this measure, we now have a modern policy to curb the prevalence of HIV and AIDS in the country. In September of last year alone, there were 954 new cases of HIV in the country, many of which involved young people,” she said.

“With this law, the government can now effectively update and upgrade its response to this growing problem,” she added.