PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte recently signed Republic Act 11166 or the Philippine HIV and Aids Policy Act of 2018. This law shall update and repeal the Philippine Aids Prevention and Control Act of 1998.
With this new law on HIV-Aids, it is hoped that the loopholes and those provisions in the old law that were not enforced will properly be corrected and rightfully imposed this time.
Provisions in the old HIV-Aids law include the education and information about the disease, which states in Section 4: HIV-Aids Education in Schools - The Department of Education, Culture and Sports (Decs), the Commission on Higher Education (Ched), and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda), utilizing official information provided by the Department of Health, shall integrate instruction on the causes, modes of transmission and ways of preventing HIV-Aids and other sexually transmitted diseases in subjects taught in public and private schools at intermediate grades, secondary and tertiary levels, including non-formal and indigenous learning systems:
Provided, that if the integration of HIV-Aids education is not appropriate or feasible, the DECS and Tesda shall design special modules on HIV-Aids prevention and control: Provided, further, that it shall not be used as an excuse to propagate birth control or the sale or distribution of birth control devices: Provided, finally, that it does not utilize sexually explicit materials.
Additionally, the old law also provides in Section 6 that: HIV-Aids Education in the Workplace - All government and private employees, workers, managers, and supervisors, including members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP), shall be provided with the standardized basic information and instruction on HIV-Aids which shall include topics confidentiality in the workplace and attitude towards infected employees and workers. In collaboration with the Department of Health (DOH), the Secretary of the Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) shall oversee the anti-HIV-Aids campaign in all private companies while the Armed Forces Chief of Staff and the Director General of the PNP shall oversee the implementation of this.
These sections clearly state the mandate of the schools and the workplaces to their students and their workers in education and information campaign against the disease.
The number of HIV-Aids carriers is exponentially rising. In Davao City alone, since 1984 there have been 2,525 cases of HIV-Aids as of July last year, records from DOH show. If the provisions of the old HIV-Aids law have been fully complied by every school and every workplace, the increase could have been prevented.
It is then hoped that the new law on HIV-Aids will truly and effectively bolster information dissemination, education, and stigma reduction, which the new law is aimed for in the first place.