Children’s rights group welcomes HIV/AIDS law signing

MANILA An independent children's rights organization has welcomed the signing of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus � Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (HIVAIDS) Act into law.

Lawyer Albert Muyot, chief executive officer of Save the Children Philippines, said the law recognizes the rights of children to health and protection from HIV.

Save the Children Philippines is an independent group that upholds Filipino children's rights and helps them learn crucial skills to have a bright future.

Giving minors aged 15 years old and above access to HIV testing is consistent with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child where the government exercises responsibility to protect and assist families to nurture their children, Muyot said in a statement Friday.

Since the new law allows minors aged 15 to 17 years access to undergo voluntary HIV testing without parental consent, it highlights the participatory rights of children where their views are respected when adults are making decisions that affect children, he said.

In its Section 29, the new HIV law allows any young person aged 15 and below who is pregnant or engaged in highrisk behavior, to access HIV testing and counseling with assistance from a licensed social worker or health worker.

Latest figures from the Department of Health (DOH) showed there were 1,072 new cases of HIV in the Philippines as of October 2018, with 306 of them young people aged 15 years to 24 years.

The percentage of youth getting infected with HIV has increased to 29 percent from 13 percent over the last decade.

The steady rise of HIV cases among minors has been a cause for alarm since they cannot open up to their parents and guardians and get treatment due to social stigma, Muyot said.

He added HIVAIDS is a global health concern that can only be addressed with measures that respect the rights of people, especially minors, to access health services, such as HIV testing and treatment.

President Rodrigo Duterte signed the Philippine HIV and AIDS Policy Act into law, five days before Christmas but only made the confirmation on Wednesday.

On Thursday, the DOH said it will develop the Implementing Rules and Regulations to guide executive officials on the proper execution of the law and educate the public on how to comply with the statute. (PNA)

Source: Philippines News Agency