House OKs bill vs HIV stigma, discrimination

BY ADRIAN STEWART CO

Thursday, December 7, 2017

MANILA – Better protections against stigma and discrimination are among the defining features of a newly approved House bill strengthening policies on HIV and AIDS in the country, one of its principal authors said.

The House of Representatives unanimously passed House Bill No. 6617, or the “Philippine HIV and AIDS Policy Act,” late Monday, repealing Republic Act 8504, or the Philippine AIDS Prevention and Control Act of 1998.

Aside from strengthening the Philippine Comprehensive Policy on HIV and AIDS, and treatment, care and support, the bill aims to reduce – if not totally eliminate – stigma and discrimination among people living with HIV, Rep. Kaka Bag-ao (Dinagat Islands) said.

Sa House Bill No. 6617, mas may pinagtibay at pinalakas na mga probisyon na may kinalaman sa confidentiality at right to privacy ng mga PLHIV,” Bag-ao said.

Moreover, the bill seeks to raise awareness on HIV, AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs), “with the goal of reducing risky behavior, lowering vulnerabilities, and promoting the human rights of persons living with the HIV.”

Nakakatawa at nakakabahala na isang beses lang binabanggit ang ‘human rights’ sa lumang batas,” said the lawmaker.

Sa ating panukala, ’di hamak na mas marami at mas makabuluhan ang pagbanggit sa karapatang pantao bilang haligi ng ating polisiya,” she said.

Protections under the bill also cover infected children and teenagers, and families and partners of people living with HIV.

The bill mandates the Department of Education, the Commission on Higher Education, and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority 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 STIs.

To promote stigma-reduction, these agencies should also include human rights-based principles and information on treatment, care and support for people living with HIV in relevant subjects in public and private schools, the bill said./PN