On Friday, Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago urged her colleagues to act on measures to strengthen efforts at awareness, treatment and prevention of the HIV and AIDS in the country.
A co-sponsor of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act, Santiago was alarmed after 560 new HIV infections were reported by the DOH in April, 42% higher compared to the same period in 2014.
“The alarming increase in HIV infections requires immediate action from various institutions, including Congress, which must address the gaps in the existing HIV and AIDS law,” Santiago stated.
She said 30% of the new cases were from the ages 15 to 24 years old.
Senate Bill No. 186, known as the Philippine HIV and AIDS Policy and Plan Act was filed by Santiago to amend Republic Act No. 8504, or the 1998 Philippine AIDS Prevention and Control Act, by complementing it with evidence-informed schemes and approaches in care, prevention, support and treatment.
Senate Bill No. 2728, also known as Stop AIDS in Prisons Act aims to create an HIV-AIDS awareness platform in jails, to provide for medical treatment to inmates with HIV/AIDS, for prison guards and other personnel protection from infection.
“The current HIV and AIDS legal framework conflicts with efforts of the health sector to stop the spread of HIV,” Santiago said, adding that social stigma reduction are also necessary, aside from programs of treatment and awareness.
Next week, the woman senator is set to file another bill.
Santiago’s proposal includes amendments to allow minors, ages 15 to 17 years old be allowed to undergo HIV screening and treatment without parent’s consent provided that the minor is pregnant, living independently, already a parent, suffered a miscarriage, no contact with parents or guardians or has a clinical condition suggesting HIV infection.
“The law requires minors to first obtain written parental consent before they can be tested for HIV. This limits the access of minors to potentially life-saving treatment and care, especially since many young people lack the finances to pay for health care,” Santiago said.
Aside from proposed laws, Santiago filed several resolutions which urged the Senate to investigate the HIV-AIDS scare. Senate Resolution No. 724, urged public hearings for DOH’s need to declare a national emergency among the rising cases of HIV.