President Rodrigo Duterte has signed a law that will strengthen the government’s response to the growing HIV and AIDS cases in the country and reduce the stigma attached to the people infected with those ailments, the Palace said Wednesday.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said the signing and enactment of Republic Act 11166, or the Philippine HIV and AIDS Policy Act, was “timely and relevant.”
“We consider its enactment and signing timely and relevant on account of the report of the Department of Health disclosing that our country has the highest percentage relative to the increase of new HIV cases in the Asia-Pacific region from 2010 to 2016,” Panelo said in a statement.
With the new law, Senator Risa Hontiveros said the Philippine government now had a modern policy to curb the prevalence of HIV and AIDS in the country.
In September of last year alone, she said, there were 954 new cases of HIV in the country, and many of those infected were young people.
“With this law, the government can now effectively update and upgrade its response to this growing problem,” said Hontiveros, the principal author and co-sponsor of the Philippine HIV and AIDS Policy Law.
Panelo commended the lawmakers, including several stakeholders, for their “immense” contribution to the passage of the new law to address the growing number of HIV and AIDS cases in the Philippines. Its enactment would also update the decades-old Philippine AIDS Prevention and Control Act of 1998.
“This piece of landmark legislation will significantly reduce the stigma of people living with HIV or AIDS,” Panelo said.
He said the updated legal framework focusing on HIV and AIDS cases “provides for the establishment of policies and programs to prevent the spread of the aforesaid epidemic.
“At the same time, [it aims to] deliver proper treatment, care and support services to the Filipinos living with HIV in accordance with evidence-based strategies and approaches.”
The new law will establish the Philippine National AIDS Council to ensure the effective implementation of the country’s response to the spread of HIV and AIDS among the population.
Former top aide Christopher Go said the measure also required the implementation of an education program for HIV and AIDS prevention to provide the public with relevant information to reduce risky behavior, lower vulnerabilities and promote the rights of people living with HIV. With Macon Ramos-Araneta