Hontiveros urges full implementation of RH, HIV AIDS Policy law

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MANILA, Philipines — Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros on Wednesday, 23 October 2019, called for the full implementation of two key laws as a way to stem the alarming rise of HIV cases in the Philippines. She said that the country’s long-standing Reproductive Health (RH) Law as well as the more recent HIV AIDS Policy Act are vital to addressing this issue.

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.

One-two combo

“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.

Hontiveros, who worked for the passage of the RH Law during her time in the House of Representatives, is also the principal author and sponsor of the Philippine HIV and AIDS Policy Act.
Sex education
She said that based on the law, the Philippine National AIDS Council is tasked to implement the country’s implementation of the AIDS Medium Term Plan, a 6-year plan to prevent and control the spread of HIV and AIDS. Hontiveros said that this plan includes intensive age-appropriate sex education and access to reproductive health supplies such as condoms.

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.

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