Duterte set to sign law vs HIV/AIDS

Rolando Andaya Jr.

HOUSE Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr. said the government is set to implement the measure which seeks to prevent a full-blown epidemic in the country of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).

The measure is aimed at stemming the spread of the disease which has already affected more than 50,000 Filipinos.

According to Andaya, President Rodrigo Duterte is set to sign the proposed law which aims to strengthen the country’s comprehensive campaign against HIV and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).

The measure was ratified by both the Senate and the House of Representatives before Congress went on recess last October 10.

Andaya said the legislative measure, once signed into law, will amend Republic Act 8504 (the Philippine National AIDS and Control Act of 1998) — a 20-year-old statute.

“RA 8504 serves as the national legal framework in the country’s fight against AIDS and we need to make it more responsive considering the advances in HIV research and policy,” the House leader said.

“This is an urgent task and we need to act fast. Time is not on our side,” he added.

Citing reports from the Philippine National AIDS Council (PNAC), Andaya noted that the number of Filipinos living with (HIV/AIDS) will exceed a quarter of a million by 2030 unless the government takes drastic actions to address the growing epidemic.

Earlier, the Department of Health (DoH) said that the Philippines had one of the “fastest growing” HIV epidemics in the world with 57,134 cases recorded from January 1984 to July 2018.

Dr. Joselito Feliciano, director of PNAC, estimates about 265,900 cases of Filipinos with HIV/AIDS in the next decade. The majority of new infections are likely to be teenagers and young adults aged 15 to 24 years old.

Feliciano also noted that an average of 31 Filipinos are now diagnosed with HIV-AIDS every day, compared to the two new cases reported daily in 2008, 13 in 2013, and 22 in 2015.

The measure also aims to strengthen and reconstitute the PNAC with a separate budget under the General Appropriations Act. It shall have its own secretariat and staffing pattern.