A House leader has raised concern over the World Health Organization report that 70 million people have been infected with HIV since the beginning of the epidemic and about 35 million have died because of it.
House deputy speaker and AAMBIS-Owa Rep. Sharon Garin said there is a need for Congress to take a drastic action to address the problem.
Garin called for a repeal of Republic Act 8504 or the Philippine AIDS Prevention and Control Act that was passed in 1998.
Under RA 8504, minors are prohibited from accessing HIV testing and other related services without written parental or guardian consent—a legal barrier Deputy Speaker Garin wants removed.
“While we do recognize the critical role of the parents in guiding their children based on how they think should be their children’s way as they tread the path of life, studies from experts and testimonials from health service providers continue to show how vulnerable young people are to acquiring different sexually transmitted infections because of the influences that abound from the internet, peer pressure and insufficient age-appropriate information, education and communication materials,” said Garin.
Citing WHO data, Garin said the Philippines has now the fastest-growing HIV epidemic in the world. It is also alarming, he added, that a report from the Department of Health showed that a total of 758 new HIV cases were reported in the month of November 2016.
Garin said her measure also would seek the creation of the Philippine National AIDS Council.
“This agency, attached to the DoH, will be the policy-making, planning, coordinating, and advisory body of the Philippine National HIV and AIDS program. This act aims to strengthen the Philippine comprehensive policy on HIV and AIDS prevention, treatment, care, and support,” Garin said.
She added the enactment of her bill will get rid of all barriers to HIV and AIDS-related services by eliminating the stigma that surrounds the epidemic and the people directly and indirectly affected by it.
“It is very clear that HIV in the Philippines is a ticking time bomb, and if appropriate measures are not taken soon, the Philippines will have a full-blown epidemic,” Garin said.