Friday, September 24, 2021

Legislators push for HIV testing for teenagers

LEGISLATORS are pushing for the amendment of the Republic Act 8504 to include teenagers in the Human Immunodeficiency Virus Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (HIV-Aids) drug testing.

AAMBIS-OWA party-list congresswoman Sharon Garin, who is one of the 76 co-author congressmen of the proposed bill amending RA 8504, said that under the old law, minors are prohibited from accessing HIV testing and other related services without parental or guardian consent.

Easing minors to HIV testing is consistent with their right to make decisions based on their evolving capacities regarding their own health and well being, she said.

The move to amend RA 8504 came after the Department of Health (DOH) revealed that the victims of the HIV-Aids are claiming the lives of teenagers with ages 14 to 24 years old.

The HIV-Aids and ART Registry of the Philippines reported that in July 2015, there were 682 new cases of HIV, which is 17 percent higher compared to the same period in 2014.

Of the new cases, 94 percent were male with half belonging to 25-34 years old, while 30 percent were youth aged 14-24 years old.

Also in July 2015, two children and 25 adolescents were reported to be infected through sexual contact on male or female sex and male to male sex.

From January 1984 to July 2015, 910 cases were recorded from patients who are 19 years old and below.

Of the 910 cases, 76 were children and 85 percent of these children and adolescents were reported in the past five years from 2010 to 2015.

Seventy-one children were infected through mother to child transmission, one through blood transfusion, and two were not specified.

Among the adolescents, 745 were males and majority were infected through sexual contact with 111 male-female sex, 436 male-male sex, 195 sex with both males and females, 82 were through sharing of needles and 4 through mother to child transmission.

Garin said she hopes the new bill will be passed by both Houses of Congress before the May 2016 Presidential elections as a similar bill was also introduced by Senator Pia Cayetano.
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