WE’RE calling for the full implementation of two key laws as a way to stem the alarming rise of HIV cases in the Philippines. The country’s longstanding Reproductive Health (RH) Law as well as the more recent HIV AIDS Policy Act are vital to addressing this issue.
A study conducted by the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) said the Philippines has the “fastest growing epidemic” of the disease. It reported that from 2010 to 2018, new HIV cases in the Philippines grew by 203 percent, whereas cases worldwide fell by at least 18 percent.
We need to fully utilize and implement all available and relevant policies to capably respond to the rapid rise of HIV in the country. And in this set of policies, we need a one-two combo, comprised of the RH Law and the HIV-AIDS Policy Act, to lead the charge.
Based on the law, the Philippine National AIDS Council is tasked to implement the country’s implementation of the AIDS Medium Term Plan, a six-year plan to prevent and control the spread of HIV and AIDS. This plan includes intensive age-appropriate sex education and access to reproductive health supplies such as condoms. It also stipulates that PhilHealth’s maximum benefits should be given to those with serious and life-threatening reproductive health conditions such as HIV.
Access to reproductive health services and correct information makes for better, informed choices. This will help our people, especially the youth, live healthy and safe lifestyles. Only two out of five young people know the correct information on how HIV is transmitted.
We have the measures specifically designed to meet this challenge. I urge the Department of Health (DOH), all of its attached agencies, and all of our local government units to fully implement these measures with utmost speed. The lives of so many depend upon it. (By Sen. Risa Hontiveros)