CHANGING THE COURSE OF THE RISING HIV EPIDEMIC

*Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros' statement on the President's signing of the Philippine HIV and AIDS Law

As principal author and co-sponsor of the Philippine HIV and AIDS Policy Law, I am happy that the measure was finally signed into law by the President. It is a great way to start the new year. With the signing into law of this measure, we now have a modern policy to curb the prevalence of HIV and AIDS in the country. In September of last year alone, there were 954 new cases of HIV in the country, many of which involved young people. With this law, the government can now effectively update and upgrade its response to this growing problem.

The law affirms a human rights-based, humane and scientific approach in addressing HIV and AIDS. It will protect the rights of persons living with HIV, afford accessible treatment through updated health technologies, and educate more people for prevention and de-stigmatization.

The law offers hope to future generations. As the only country in Southeast Asia where the number of new cases is on the riseand where there has been a 170% increase among those aged 15-24the measure provides young Filipinos with the correct information and healthy values that will protect them from the disease.

I join the thousands of advocates who worked day and night for many years to ensure this important milestone in our healthcare system. It is an institutional victory that will certainly make our healthcare services more responsive to the needs of the people. Many lives have been unnecessarily lost due to AIDS, including the lives of many young people. Today, we change the course of this rising epidemic and hopefully, help usher in an AIDS-free generation.

Source: Senate of the Philippines