MANILA A party-list lawmaker on Tuesday said a bill strengthening policies preventing the spread of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is poised to become a law before the observance of World AIDS Day on December 1.
Kabayan party-list Rep. Ron Salo, one of the bill's authors, said the imminent enactment into law of the Philippine HIV and AIDS Policy Act is "very timely" with new HIV-AIDS cases reaching 7,579 this year.
Both the Senate and the House of Representatives ratified the bicameral conference committee report on the HIV/AIDS Policy Act last week. It is now up for President Rodrigo Duterte's signature.
"The reconciled bicameral-approved bill is a done deal. The Department of Health and other concerned agencies can now formulate the implementing rules and regulations, so that the new law can be carried out sooner rather than later," Salo said.
He cited latest official data on HIV-AIDS in the country showing that 1,047 new cases were recorded last August.
Of the 1,047 cases, 176 of them were found to be already in the advanced stages of infection at the time of diagnosis, and 944 patients were initiated on anti-retroviral treatment.
Salo added that a total of 159 deaths were recorded last August among people living with HIV-AIDS.
Latest data also showed the disease has securely spread among the different age groups since 2010.
"Along with economic growth and higher incomes, especially among the young adults, came this HIV epidemic. I believe there is a link between the workplace and economic-social circumstances of the young adults with HIV and how they got infected. We therefore need aggressive anti-HIV measures where these young adults work," he said.
The bill seeks to restructure the legal framework on HIV and AIDS by harmonizing it with evidence-informed strategies and approaches on the prevention, treatment, care and support for HIV/AIDS victims and ensuring a response that is appropriate, flexible, and relevant to the characteristic of the HIV epidemic facing the country.
It also aims to strengthen the stigma reduction mechanisms of the law, which guarantees that the country's HIV and AIDS response is premised on the respect, recognition, and promotion of human dignity.
Under the bill, the Philippine National AIDS Council (PNAC) will be reconstituted and streamlined to ensure the implementation of the country's response to the HIV and AIDS epidemic.
The bill also mandates the formulation of a six-year National Multi-Sectoral HIV and AIDS Strategic Plan or an AIDS Medium-Term Plan to be periodically updated by the PNAC. (PNA)
Source: Philippine News Agency