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Kailangan nang mabago: Hontiveros pushes for amendments to law on AIDS prevention

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The continuing struggle against the spread of HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) “is real.” Senator Risa Hontiveros stressed this on Thursday as she deplored reports that the Philippines has the “highest” HIV infection rate in the Asia-Pacific region.

She said that in the past six years, the Philippines has registered a 140% increase in HIV infection, according to the United Nations.

“Most of the news cases are young people. Reports point to 31 new cases a day with 80% of which are 15-30 years old,” Hontiveros said.

She said that the Senate on Wednesday approved a proposed bill that seeks to replace the 20-year-old law on the government’s response to the HIV-AIDS epidemic in the country.

She was referring to Senate Bill No. 1390 or the HIV-AIDS Policy Bill, sponsored by Hontiveros seeks to repeal Republic Act 8504 of 1998 and promises to address the rising incidence of HIV and AIDS in the country by creating a national multi-sectoral strategy.

“Our current response on the HIV-AIDS epidemic is borne out of the need to update an old law,” the senator said.

“We can no longer rely on this two-decades-old law to adequately address our dire situation,” she urged,” she said.

Hontiveros added, “This is our way of updating the government framework on HIV-AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome).”

“We need a scientific, medical, human rights-based and inclusive policy to fully address the problem,” she said.

SBN 1390 seeks to allocate more funds on HIV prevention, diagnosis and treatment. It will mandate an up-to-date education about HIV and AIDS in schools, communities, workplaces and vulnerable areas.

In December 2017, the House of Representatives has approved on third and final reading their own version of the bill.

The Senate version will be taken up for third and final reading next week. After which, both chambers of Congress will convene to finalize the final version.

“The public can look forward to a new policy on the government’s HIV-AIDS response. It is urgent that we reverse the tide of the HIV-AIDS epidemic,” Hontiveros said.