THE HOUSE of Representatives has approved on second reading a bill that seeks to prevent the spread of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome in the country.
House Bill 6617, also known as the Philippine HIV and AIDS Policy Act, aims to strengthen the Philippine Comprehensive Policy on HIV and Aids, and improve the treatment, care and support to those who have the deadly disease repealing Republic Act (RA) 8504 or the Philippine AIDS Prevention and Control Act of 1998.
The bill reconstitutes and streamlines the Philippine National AIDS Council (PNAC) to ensure the implementation of the country’s response to HIV and AIDS. The PNAC was mandated to promote and adopt measures and interventions that aim to prevent, halt or control the spread of HIV in the general population, especially among vulnerable communities.
This will be done with civil society organizations (CSOs).
Under the bill, the PNAC, Department of Health (DoH), Department of the Interior and Local Government along with the Department of Social Welfare and Development, League of Provinces of the Philippines, League of Cities of the Philippines and League of Municipalities of the Philippines will develop and disseminate programs and tools to prevent new infections, halt the spread of HIV and to respond in a timely, effective and efficient manner when the epidemic hits local communities.
The measure will also formulate a six-year National Multi-Sectoral HIV and AIDS Strategic Plan or the AIDS Medium-Term Plan (AMTP) which will be updated periodically.
The AMTP will include the country’s targets and strategies in addressing the epidemic, as well as the prevention, treatment, care and support and other components of the country’s response.
The bill also aims to provide an HIV and AIDS prevention program that will educate the public on the two diseases and other sexually transmitted infections to reduce risky behavior.
The Department of Education (DepEd), Commission on Higher Education (Ched) and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) will be mandated to integrate basic and age-appropriate instruction on the ins and outs of HIV infection, as well as ways of preventing the diseases from spreading.
All employed personnel in the country, including members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) will be provided with basic information and instruction on HIV and AIDS regularly.
According to the latest HIV/AIDS registry of the country, a total of 1,962 new HIV cases were reported from July to August this year; an average of 31 cases a day.