New law to strengthen provision of HIV, AIDS care, treatment

The Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD) celebrates the approval of the Philippine HIV and AIDS Policy Act of 2018 or Republic Act 11166 after it was signed into law by President Rodrigo Duterte. With the new law, gaps in the provisions and enforcement of the 21-year-old Philippine AIDS Prevention and Control Act of 1998 (Republic Act 8504) will be addressed.

The new law will reconstitute and put the Philippine National AIDS Council (PNAC), an attached agency under the Department of Health, in charge of the implementation of the AIDS Medium Term Plan, a six-year plan to address the country’s problems on HIV and AIDS.  In order to establish timely and effective programs and policies for HIV AIDS, a multi-sectoral approach involving the different sectors such as the local communities, civil society organizations, and persons living with HIV (PLHIV) was included in the law’s provision.

The 2011 study by the University of the Philippines National Institutes of Health (UP NIH) revealed that stigma is the most alarming obstacle for PLHIV in accessing proper treatment and care. Thus, the new law ensures protection of PLHIV’s basic human rights which include the affordable access to health services without the fear of being discriminated. Since stigma is also a product of misinformation about the disease, the law also includes education and awareness not only to prevent the spread of the disease but also for destigmatization. It will also prohibit bullying and discrimination of PLHIVs based on actual, perceived, or suspected HIV status, while guaranteeing PLHIVs fair employment and livelihood, protection and confidentiality, and peer-led counselling, support, and case management.

With the increasing number of HIV cases diagnosed in the 15 to 24 age group, the law will allow individuals 15 to 18 years of age to voluntary subject themselves to HIV testing without the need of consent from a parent or guardian.

As the national coordinating body of health research, PCHRD assures its commitment to support and fund researches on HIV and AIDS that will benefit policymaking. One such project is the HIV Gaming, Engaging, and Testing (HIV GET) project, where a gaming application, titled Battle in the Blood, has been developed to disseminate information and educate individuals about HIV. You may download Battle in the Blood at this link.