Bill strengthening country’s policy on HIV/AIDS hurdles 2nd reading

THE House of Representatives is expected to approve on third reading a bill which seeks to strengthen the country’s comprehensive policy on the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) prevention, treatment, and care.

Aside from the objective to prevent the spread of HIV and AIDS in the country, House Bill 6751 seeks to protect the rights and freedom of those afflicted with such diseases as well as to improve the living condition of persons with HIV and AIDS.

Recently, a news item in a major daily indicated that government may have to spend P1.38 billion annually by 2015 for the treatment of the said disease which is projected to affect 46,000 Filipinos by then. This is estimated roughly at a cost of P30,000 per head for each HIV-positive Filipino.

The bill, which has been approved on second reading, restructures the legal framework on HIV and AIDS by harmonizing it with evidence-informed strategies and approaches on the prevention, treatment, care and support for HIV/AIDS victims, which is now considered timely in the light of these statistics.

“This is to ensure a response that is appropriate, flexible and relevant to the characteristics of the HIV epidemic facing the country,” Rep. Imelda R. Marcos (2nd District, Ilocos Norte), one of those who introduced the bill said.

Another provision of the measure is that it clarifies the roles and responsibilities of state institutions involved in the HIV and AIDS response from government national agencies to the local level.

The bill calls for the establishment of National HIV and AIDS Program, thus creating a road map on HIV and AIDS that has clear strategies, targets, operationalization, framework and funding.

It also provides for the strengthening  of the stigma reduction mechanisms of the law which guarantees that the country’s HIV and AIDS Program is premised on the respect, recognition and promotion of human dignity.

Likewise, the bill also seeks to strengthen the Philippine National AIDS Council (PNAC) as the central planning and implementing agency for HIV and AIDS concerns by increasing its functions and providing a permanent secretariat to support its activities.

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