Former Special Assistant to the President Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go yesterday lauded President Rodrigo Duterte’s signing into law of the “Philippine HIV and AIDS Policy Act.”
The measure seeks to strengthen the national response to the HIV and AIDS epidemic by reforming the country’s 20-year old legal framework on addressing HIV and AIDS.
He said the enactment of the law is timely, citing data from the Department of Health showing that as of August 2018, the number of new HIV cases per day has more than doubled over the past five years. The DOH has recorded 1,047 new cases of HIV infection during the same month.
Likewise, the DOH data also indicated that nearly one in three cases of HIV infection involved those between 15 to 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.
“Dapat lamang po na maagapan natin ang paglaban sa HIV/AIDS lalo na nga at marami na sa ating mga kabataan ang biktima ng sakit na ito,” said Go, who is running for the Senate in the 2019 elections.
Go also said HIV/AIDS should not be treated exclusively as a medical problem as it affects individuals in their productive working age.
“Karamihan po sa nagkakaroon ng HIV/AIDS ay yung mga nasa gulang na nagtatrabaho na o magtatrabaho pa lamang. Nakakahinayang kung hindi natin mapakinabangan ang kanilang talino at kakayahan. Bukod sa gamot, nararapat din silang tulungan ng gobyerno para makapamuhay ng normal at magtrabaho sa kabila ng kanilang kalagayan,” he added.
The new law establishes policies and programs to prevent the spread of HIV and deliver treatment, care, and support services to Filipinos living with HIV.
Such actions should be in accordance with evidence-based strategies and multi-sectoral approach that follows the principles of human rights, gender-responsiveness, and meaningful participation of communities affected by the epidemic.
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 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.
Likewise, 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.
“Katulad din po ito nung isinusulong nating Malasakit Center para mapadali ang proseso ng pagbibigay ng tulong lalo na sa mahihirap na pasyente. Pareho lang po ang gusto namin ni Presidente Dutere na mag-serbisyo sa kapwa at mapadali ang pagbigay ng tulong mula sa gobyerno,” said Go.
“Pera po ninyo ito. Binabalik lang namin sa pamamagitan ng maayos at mabilis na serbisyo sa tao,” he added.