Press Release
May 21, 2018

Senate approves HIV-AIDS Policy Bill on third and final reading

PASAY CITY - The Senate on Monday approved on third and final reading a bill that seeks to strengthen the two-decades old law governing the government's response on HIV-AIDS.

Senate Bill No. 1390 or the Philippine HIV AIDS Policy Act of 2018, sponsored by Committee on Health Chairperson Senator Joseph Victor Ejercito and Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros, will adopt a multi-sectoral approach in responding to the HIV epidemic by ensuring that local communities, civil society organizations, and persons living with HIV are at the center of the process.

With the House of Representatives having approved their own version of the bill in December last year, both chambers of Congress will now convene for a bicameral conference committee to finalize the bill's version for ratification and the President's signature into law.

"This is an important victory in our fight to reverse the tide of the HIV-AIDS epidemic in the country. We now have a stronger and modern policy tool to appropriately respond to this problem," Hontiveros said.

In recent data by the United Nations, the Philippines has the highest HIV infection rate in the Asia Pacific region. In the past six years, the country has registered a 140% increase in HIV infection.

Hontiveros, who is also the principal author of the measure, explained that the bill was formulated with stringent consultation and validation from health advocates.

"It is a product of both love and expertise", she mentioned. "The bill incorporated a concerted response that makes use of the most recent developments in prevention and treatment in medical and health science. It also gathered all the stakeholders' input, especially the communities that are at the forefront of the anti-HIV campaign," she added.

Hontiveros also said that young people will benefit greatly from the bill's passage into law. She said that HIV education in academic institutions and workplaces will be implemented as part of the law. In addition, voluntary HIV testing and increased delivery of non-discriminatory HIV and AIDS medical services shall be the policy of the state.

"It is unfortunate that young people are at the losing end of the struggle versus HIV", she lamented, citing reports that 80% of the 31 cases of HIV infection being reported daily are from the age bracket of 15 to 30 years old. "With this measure, we will mainstream HIV prevention and treatment for the youth", said Hontiveros.

The Akbayan Senator expressed her thanks to her fellow Senators for supporting the bill.

"The passage of this measure expresses the Senate's strong institutional support to address the country's HIV problem. I thank my colleagues for helping shape a future free of stigma and discrimination that hound persons living with HIV and prevents people from getting tested and access treatment " Hontiveros said.

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