In the face of rising cases of HIV infections in the country, President Rodrigo Duterte late last year signed into law Republic Act 11166 otherwise known as the Philippine HIV and Policy Act of 2018.
With this new law, the Philippine National AIDS Council (PNAC), an attached agency under the Department of Health, was reconstituted; giving them responsibility for the overall implementation of the country’s the AIDS Medium Term Plan, a six-year plan to prevent and control the spread of HIV and AIDS.
The law also put the Department of Health (DoH) to task with the creation of a program wherein free and accessible treatment and medication to all persons living with HIV and AIDS shall be provided, with public and private hospitals to serve as treatment hubs.
No doubt, the signing of this new law couldn’t have come at a more crucial time, especially in the face of the continuing and alarming rise of HIV cases in the country. Official numbers from the DoH Epidemiology Bureau shows that 1,092 newly confirmed HIV-positive individuals have been reported to the HIV/AIDS ART Registry of the Philippines.
This was higher compared with the same period last year, with 17 percent having clinical manifestations of advanced HIV infection at the time of diagnosis. 94 percent of the newly diagnosed were male, with the median age at 27 years old.
This spike in HIV cases has been attributed to a lack of condom use and also in part due to insufficient sex education. It cannot be denied then that the need for safe sex in the Philippines is real and immediate, and that the government simply cannot address this need alone without the help of NGOs and private sector partners.