House okays revised HIV and AIDS Policy and Program Law

THE House of Representatives has approved on third and final reading a bill seeking to strengthen the country’s comprehensive policy on the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) prevention, treatment and care.

House Bill 6751, known as The Revised Philippine HIV and AIDS Policy and Program Act of 2012, also aims to protect the rights and freedoms of those afflicted with HIV and AIDS and improve their living conditions.

The bill, which was endorsed by the House Committee on Health chaired by Rep. Alfredo Marañon III (2nd District, Negros Occidental), substituted House Bill Nos. 4129, 5312 and 5605.

One of the key provisions of the bill is restructuring 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 and ensuring a response that is appropriate, flexible and relevant to the characteristics of the HIV epidemic facing the country.

Rep. Imelda Marcos (2nd District, Ilocos Norte), one of the authors of the measure, lauded the bill’s passage and said this would go a long a way at helping in the treatment of 46,000 Filipinos projected to be affected by the said disease by 2015.

“The establishment of a National HIV and AIDS Program will pave the way for the creation of a road map on HIV and AIDS that has clear strategies, targets, operationalization framework and funding,” Marcos said.

The bill clarifies the roles and responsibilities of state institutions involved in the HIV and AIDs response from government national agencies to the local level.

Rep. Kaka Bag-ao (Party-list, Akbayan), another author of the measure, said the bill strengthens the 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 dignity.

“It likewise strengthens 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,” Bag-ao said.

The bill provides for stiffer penalties for violations of the law ranging from six months imprisonment to 5 years and/or a fine of not less than P50,000 but not more than P500,000.

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