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House panel action

  • Written by Jester P. Manalastas
  • Published in Top Stories
  • Read: 291

Funds vs HIV/AIDS okayed

TO address the worsening problem of HIV/AIDS, a House panel approved the proposed funding for programs
to stop infections.

Chaired by Davao City Rep. Karlo Alexei Nograles, the House committee on appropriations
supported the funding requirements for the proposed Philippine HIV and AIDS Policy Act.
    
Nograles said this could be one way to finding a concrete solution to the problem of HIV/AIDS
in the country.
    
“The  unnumbered bill is a consolidation of 17 House Bills filed by congressmen belonging to
the Majority, Minority, and Independent blocs. Needless to say, we in the House are taking this matter
very seriously,” Nograles said.
     
“The Committee’s approval of the bill’s appropriation provisions is also very timely given the
worsening HIV/AIDS situation in the country. We don’t want this to go out of hand,” he added.
 
Last August, no less than the United Nations (UN) said the Philippines had the highest human
immunodeficiency virus (HIV) growth rate in the Asia Pacific. HIV is a precursor to Acquired Immune
Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), which is incurable.
     
According to the UN, some 10,500 Filipinos were infected with HIV at the end of 2016—up 140
percent from 2010 when there were just 4,300 infections.
     
Proving to be vulnerable to infection are people belonging to the current 15 to 34 age group,
or the so-called millennials. The Department of Health (DOH) earlier reported that of the 629 people
diagnosed with HIV last April, 513 of them or over 80 percent belonged to the category.
     
Even more worrisome is the fact that these statistics go against the global downward trend on
HIV/AIDS infections.
     
Pointing to the Philippine HIV and AIDS Policy Act, Nograles said: “This is where we
legislators step in. We believe the HIV/AIDS problem can be abated through proper intervention and a
focused government policy.”
     
The aim of the measure is to prevent the spread of HIV and provide treatment, care and support
services to those infected. It also seeks to remove the barriers to HIV/AIDS-related services by
eliminating the climate of stigma that surrounds the epidemic and the people directly and indirectly
affected by it.
     
Moreover, the proposed Act identifies poverty, prostitution, marginalization, drug abuse and
ignorance as some of the factors that aggravate HIV infections. The measure seeks to address these in
that regard.
 
The bill bats for the formation of the Philippine National AIDS Council, which will be the
policy-making, planning, coordinating and advisory body of the Philippine National HIV and AIDS
program. It shall be an attached agency of the DoH.