Press Release
May 16, 2018

HIV-AIDS Policy Bill hurdles second reading in the Senate

PASAY CITY - A bill that seeks to replace the 20-year-old law on the government's response to the HIV-AIDS epidemic in the country was approved on second reading by the Senate on Wednesday .

"Our current response on the HIV-AIDS epidemic is borne out of the need to update an old law", Hontiveros said. The Senator said that new developments in prevention and treatment are available and must be maximized by the government. "We can no longer rely on this two-decades-old law to adequately address our dire situation", she urged.

Senate Bill No. 1390 or the HIV-AIDS Policy Bill, sponsored by Hontiveros and Committee on Health Chairperson Sen. JV Ejercito, 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. Hontiveros said that engaging persons living with HIV and affected sectors such as young people and men having sex with men (MSM) will make the effort inclusive and effective.

"The continuing struggle against HIV is real", Sen. Hontiveros said citing data that the Philippines has the highest HIV infection rate in Asia-Pacific. In the past six years, the country 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.

"This is our way of updating the government framework on HIV-AIDS. We need a scientific, medical, human rights-based and inclusive policy to fully address the problem", the Akbayan Senator added. The bill also seeks to allocate more funds on HIV prevention, diagnosis and treatment. The bill will mandate an up-to-date education about HIV and AIDS in schools, communities, workplaces and vulnerable areas.

In December last year, 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 after three days. After which, both chambers of Congress will convene to finalize the said bill for ratification and transmittal to the President for his signature into law.

"The public can look forward to a new policy on the government's HIV-AIDS response. I thank my colleagues in the Senate for their support on this", the Senator expressed. "It is urgent that we reverse the tide of the HIV-AIDS epidemic", Hontiveros concluded.

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