PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has signed into law a measure that will strengthen the government's existing policy against further transmission of Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (HIV-Aids) in the country.
Malacañang has yet to release a copy of the newly-signed law, but former Special Assistant to the President Christopher Lawrence Go confirmed in a statement on Wednesday, January 9, that Duterte already signed the Philippine HIV and Aids Policy Act.
The new law effectively updates the Philippine Aids Prevention and Control Act of 1998 in an effort to improve the access to HIV prevention and diagnosis and treatment.
The law seeks to address the rising incidence of HIV-Aids by establishing policies and programs aimed at preventing the spread of the HIV epidemic and delivering treatment, care and support services to Filipinos living with HIV.
The legal framework on HIV-Aids will be in accordance with evidence-based strategies and muti-sectoral approach that follows the principles of human rights, gender-responsiveness, and meaningful participation of communities affected by the epidemic.
Under the Philippine HIV and Aids Policy Act, the Philippine National Aids Council (PNAC) is established to ensure effective implementation of the country's response to the growing HI and Aids cases.
The PNAC is mandated to formulate six-year National Multi-Sectoral HIV and Aids Strategic Plan or Aids Medium-Term Plan and periodically update it.
HIV-Aids is transmitted when body fluids such as blood, semen, pre-seminal fluid, rectal fluids, vaginal fluids, and breast milk enters another person's body.
Some 31,458 Filipinos living with HIV were listed as undergoing treatment as of September 2018, according to a data from the Department of Health.
The law intends to bolster information dissemination, education, and stigma reduction mechanisms to ensure that the HIV and Aids response is premised on the respect, recognition, and promotion of human rights and dignity.
It also calls for a program that will provide free and accessible anti retroviral treatment to indigents living with HIV. (SunStar Philippines)