Solons urge colleagues: support proposed amendments on AIDS prevention law

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In a press conference held yesterday (24 May) in commemoration of the 29th International AIDS Candlelight Memorial (IACM), authors of HB 5312 or the “National Comprehensive HIV and AIDS Prevention, Treatment, Care and Support Policy and Plan” call on their co-lawmakers to support their proposed legislation that will amend RA 8504 or the “Philippine AIDS Prevention and Control Act.”  IACM is celebrated every 3rd Sunday of May every year.


According to Rep. Janette L. Garin, principal author of HB 5312, RA 8504 is already outdated. “RA 8594 was enacted in 1998 when the country was only recording one new infection every four days.  Today, as recorded in the March AIDS Registry, we are already looking at one new infection every two hours, obviously the bill no longer serve its purpose,” explains Rep. Garin of the 1st District of Iloilo.


Rep. Garin strongly believes that it is high time to upgrade the Philippine law on AIDS.  “The epidemic profile has changed over the years, hence a stronger, more effective mechanism and structures for HIV and AIDS related violations must be put in place through an enabling law,” Rep. Garin said.


Cong. Angelo Palmones, AGHAM Party List Representative, said that stigma and discrimination against persons living with HIV is very real.  “Very recent incidents of discrimination against two employees were reported by the media,” laments Palmones. “When these employees disclosed their HIV status, one was forced to go on sick leave without pay while the other one was denied payment of insurance by his company.”


Palmones explains, “more challenging to a patient is the perception of people around them. As a legislator, we can only craft policies for the state on how to deal with the spread of the virus, but we need to seek the support of our citizens by showing compassion in helping PLHIVs gain inspiration and continue facing the challenges of everyday life.”


HB 5312 filed by Reps. Garin, Palmones, Kaka Bag-Ao, and Jorge Banal, among others seeks to strengthen mechanisms in reducing HIV and AIDS stigma. The proposed law guarantees that HIV and AIDS response is premised on respect, recognition and promotion of human dignity; clarifies the roles and responsibilities of government agencies involved in HIV and AIDS response from the national to local government units; and institutionalize the national HIV and AIDS investment plan with clear strategies, targets and funding for the program.


The press conference is organized by the Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development Foundation, Inc. (PLCPD), a non-government organizations of lawmakers pushing for population and human development legislations in partnership with UNAIDS, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS.


This is a press release from the PLCPD.

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