Hontiveros made the statement in response to a study conducted by the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) in which the Philippines was said to be a nation with the “fastest-growing epidemic” of the disease. It reported that from 2010 to 2018, new HIV cases in the Philippines grew by 203 percent, whereas cases worldwide fell by at least 18 percent.
“We need to fully utilize and implement all available and relevant policies to capably respond to the rapid rise of HIV in the country. And in this set of policies, we need a one-two combo, comprised of the RH Law and the HIV-AIDS Policy Act, to lead the charge,” Hontiveros said.
Meanwhile, Hontiveros said that the RH Law, aside from mandating age-appropriate sex education, stipulates that PhilHealth’s maximum benefits should be given to those with serious and life-threatening reproductive health conditions such as HIV.
“Access to reproductive health services and correct information makes for better, informed choices. This will help our people, especially the youth, live healthy and safe lifestyles,” said Hontiveros, citing that only two out of five young people know the correct information on how HIV is transmitted.
Hontiveros also said that barangay health centers and schools have a big role to play in implementing the said laws to curb HIV and AIDS in the country. “HIV testing should be readily available in our schools and barangays”, she said. “Early detection means early treatment. And in the case of HIV, we cannot act fast enough.”
“We have the measures specifically designed to meet this challenge. I urge the Department of Health (DOH), all of its attached agencies, and all of our local government units to fully implement these measures with the utmost speed. The lives of so many depend upon it,” Hontiveros ended.