Bicam okays AIDS bill

Health

Malacañang on Thursday hailed Congress’ ratification of a bicameral conference committee report on a bill seeking to strengthen existing policy aimed at preventing the further spread of human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immune deficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) in the country.

Palace spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said the Philippines made a significant milestone after the Senate and the House of Representatives on Wednesday ratified the billl, which seeks to replace the 20-year-old Philippine AIDS Prevention and Control Act.

Roque, one of the principal authors of the House version of the bill, noted that the proposed law would strengthen the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) Act given that the UHC covers preventive health services.

“Wala ng Pilipinong may HIV/AIDS ang magsasabi na hindi siya nabibigyan ng serbisyo at suportang pangkalusugan mula sa pamahalaan (There will be no Filipinos who would say that they’re not being given a medical service and support from the government),” he said.

Roque pointed out that “the alarming rise in HIV/AIDS cases underscores the need for a comprehensive and updated legal framework addressing HIV and AIDS.”

“We can look forward to a society that is empowered to prevent, not only the spread of the disease, but also the stigma that comes with it,” he said.

The proposed HIV/AIDS Policy Act of 2018 will be sent to President Rodrigo Duterte for his signature.

The measure aims to restructure the legal framework on HIV and AIDS by harmonizing it with evidence-informed strategies and approaches on prevention, testing, screening, treatment, care and support.

It will clarify the roles and responsibilities of state institutions involved in the HIV and AIDS response and establish a road map on HIV and AIDS that has clear strategies, targets, operationalization framework and funding.

The bill also seeks to strengthen the information dissemination, education and stigma-reduction mechanisms of the law, which guarantees that the country’s HIV and AIDS response is premised on respect, recognition and promotion of human rights and dignity.

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