New HIV/AIDS law allows minors between ages 15 and 18 to get tested without parental consent.
PhilStar.com/File
New law allows minors to get tested for HIV without parental consent
(philstar.com) - December 28, 2018 - 5:16pm

MANILA, Philippines — The new HIV and AIDS Policy Act lapsed into law Friday after it was not acted upon by President Rodrigo Duterte.

The law was transmitted from the bicameral conference committee to Duterte's desk on November 26. Laws that aren’t signed or vetoed, lapse into law after 30 days.

The most important feature of the new law removes the need for "mature" minors between the ages 15 and 18 to get parental consent prior to getting tested for HIV.

HIV/AIDS is transmitted when body fluids, most commonly blood, semen and pre-seminal fluid, enters another person’s body, either through sexual contact or sharing of needles.

At least 31,458 Filipinos living with HIV were listed as undergoing such treatment as of September 2018, according to the Department of Health.

"The new law cites the so-called 'mature minor doctrine' as basis for consent of minors who are pregnant into high-risk behavior," Rep. Ron Salo (Kabayan party-list), who co-authored the House of Representatives' version of the bill said in a statement on Friday.

According to the latest studies, the Philippines has the fastest growing HIV epidemic in the Asia Pacific.

The law aims to stop its growth among the younger Filipino age bracket who had to seek parental consent prior to getting tested.  The Senate's version, Senate Bill 1390, was authored by Sen. Risa Hontiveros.

"There have been too many cases of children and teens getting HIV. Government must protect and care for the young especially so because they are vulnerable to the public health dangers," Salo said.

The law also mandates the DOH to strengthen its program that would provide free and accessible antiretroviral drugs.

It would also prohibit private health insurance plans from denying coverage of people living with HIV.

“They have to deal with family support. There's depression. There's adjustment, especially if there's discrimination in the workplace, suddenly you're out of a job. The world comes crumbling down,” Dr. Eric Tayag, DOH spokesperson, told One News in an interview last December 4.

Currently, the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. or PhilHealth offers an HIV/AIDS benefit package of P30,000 and can be availed at any accredited HIV treatment facility by an active member or their dependents.

READ: DepEd urged to implement comprehensive sex education amid rising HIV cases

Find out where you can get tested for HIV here. — Ryan Macasero

AIDS DOH HEALTH HIV TAYAG
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