The Philippine House of Representatives has approved a bill to strengthen the country’s comprehensive policy on HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, and care. The House Bill 6751, also known as the Revised Philippine HIV and AIDS Policy and Program Act of 2012, replaced House Bill Nos. 4129, 5312, and 5605. It is also geared to protecting the rights and freedoms of individuals with HIV/AIDS and to improving their living conditions.
The bill, which was endorsed by the House Committee on Health, has as one of its key provisions, the restructuring of the legal framework on HIV/AIDS by harmonizing it with evidence-informed strategies and approaches on prevention, treatment, care and support for HIV/AIDS patients and ensuring a response that is appropriate, flexible, and relevant to the characteristics of the HIV epidemic in the country.
One of the authors of the bill, Rep. Imelda Marcos (2nd District, IIocos Norte) praised the bill’s passage and said that this bill would go a long way to help with treatment of the 46,000 Filipinos projected to be affected by the disease by 2015. Marcos stated that the establishment of a National HIV and AIDS program will prepare the way for drafting a plan for HIV and AIDS that has clear strategies, targets, and operationalization framework and funding.
The bill explains the roles and responsibilities of state institutions that participate in the HIV and AIDS response beginning with government national agencies and down to the local programs. Rep. Kaka Bag-ao, another author of the bill, commented that it strengthens the stigma reduction mechanisms of the law, which guarantee that the country’s HIV and AIDS response is based on respect, recognition, and promotion of human dignity. Bag-ao added that the bill also strengthens the Philippine National AIDS Council as the central planning and implementing agency for HIV and AIDS concerns by increasing its participation and providing a permanent secretariat to support its activities.
The bill also provides for harsher penalties for violations of the law ranging from a six-month to five-year jail term and/or fines of not less than P50,000 and not more than P500,000.
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