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House okays bill vs spread of HIV/AIDS

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The House of Representatives this week approved on second reading House Bill 6617 or the proposed "Philippine HIV and AIDS Policy Act" which seeks to prevent the spread of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) in the country.

Congressman Celso Lobregat, one of the main-authors of this bill, said that it seeks to strengthen the Philippine Comprehensive Policy on HIV and AIDS, treatment, care and support, repealing for the purpose Republic Act No. 8504, otherwise known as the “Philippine AIDS Prevention and Control Act of 1998”.

It reconstitutes and streamlines the Philippine National AIDS Council or PNAC established under RA 8504 to ensure the implementation of the country’s response to the HIV and AIDS epidemic.

It provides for a formulation of a six-year National Multi-Sectoral HIV and AIDS Strategic Plan or an AIDS Medium-Term Plan (AMTP) which shall be periodically updated by the PNAC.

Congressman Lobregat said that the AMTP shall include the country’s targets and strategies in addressing the epidemic; the prevention, treatment, care and support, and other components of the country’s response; the six-year operationalization of the program and identification of the government agencies that shall implement the program as well as the budgetary requirements and a corollary investment plan that identify the sources of funds for its implementation.

Likewise, the measure provides for an HIV and AIDS prevention program that shall educate the public on these and other sexually transmitted infections, with the goal of reducing risky behavior, lowering vulnerabilities and promoting the human rights of persons living with the HIV.

These measures shall likewise promote the rights, welfare, and participation of persons living with HIV and the affected children, young people, families and partners of persons living with HIV.

The bill mandates the Department of Education (DepEd), Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) to integrate basic and age-appropriate instruction on the causes, modes of transmission, impacts of HIV infection and ways of preventing the spread of HIV and AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections, human rights-based principles, and information on treatment, care, and support to promote stigma-reduction in relevant subjects taught in public and private learning institutions, including alternative and indigenous learning systems using standardized information and epidemiological data from the Department of Health (DOH).

The proposal mandates the State to ensure that all overseas Filipino workers and diplomatic, military, trade, and labor officials and personnel to be assigned overseas shall attend a seminar on the causes, manner of prevention and impacts of HIV and AIDS before being granted a certification of overseas assignment.

Another provision in the bill states the HIV/AIDS education and information dissemination shall form part of the delivery of health services by health practitioners, workers and personnel. – Dexter Yap




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