Malacañang on Sunday opposed the proposal of the Department of Health (DOH) to make human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) testing compulsory, saying that the move is against the country’s existing law.
Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. stressed that HIV testing remains voluntary and that health authorities are expected to stick to legal methods to prevent the spread of the disease.
He cited specifically Republic Act 8504, or the Philippine AIDS Prevention and Control Act of 1998 which, according to him, does not allow compulsory HIV testing.
“It [mandatory HIV testing]is just a proposal from the DOH,” Coloma told government-run dzRB radio.
Coloma also appealed to the public to remain calm, saying that the government will not allow the implementation of any policy that goes against existing laws.
Earlier, Health Undersecretary Eric Tayag revealed that there was a need for drastic measures to contain the increasing number of HIV cases in the country.
“[Health] Secretary [Enrique] Ona would want to shift from voluntary testing to something that’s compulsory. We’re working out the details, how this is possible. We want health providers to screen adults who may have risk for HIV so they can be properly counseled on what to do next,” Tayag said in a television interview.
The National Epidemiology Center had said that 498 individuals have been confirmed to be HIV positive in March, the highest recorded new HIV cases in a month. This brings this year’s total of new cases to 1,432.