In an interview with Cignal TV / One News’ “The Chiefs” that aired yesterday, Billy Santo said he can now enjoy a normal life as a financial adviser for an insurance company.
KJ Rosales
Person with HIV lauds new AIDS law
Marc Jayson Cayabyab (The Philippine Star) - January 17, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — A person living with HIV lauded the passage of the Philippine HIV and AIDS Policy Act, which sets a human rights approach to address the spread of the disease and eliminate discrimination.

In an interview with Cignal TV / One News’ “The Chiefs” that aired yesterday, Billy Santo said he can now enjoy a normal life as a financial adviser for an insurance company.

He recounted his struggle with discrimination since he was diagnosed at the age of 23, brought about by his stint as a sex worker at 17 to make ends meet.

Republic Act 11166 seeks to amend the old law “Philippine AIDS Prevention and Control Act of 1998” where people living with HIV are not as protected from the stigma and discrimination, according to Anastacio Marasigan, executive director of TLF Share.

Santo said the old law, where minors were not allowed to undergo HIV testing without the consent of their parents, prohibited him from seeking treatment at a young age. He was also orphaned at an early age.

“The youth can really have the benefit from this new law. Given the fact that I was young and did not have access to these services and treatment, it prevented me from seeking treatment. It became a barrier for me,” Santo said.

Under the new law, a minor who would like to get tested need not get consent from his parents or guardians.

The new law is also anchored on the rights of people living with HIV to be protected from discrimination and to avail themselves of basic social services despite their condition.

Santo recalled the time he was fired from his job because his superior, who was pregnant at the time, was afraid of contracting HIV from him.

“I faced a lot of discrimination… When I was pushed down to my limit, this is when I said, this is enough. I need to stand up and show people I am still a human being capable of being loved, to live and to work,” Santo said.

The new law even included among the prohibited discriminatory acts the denial of burial services.

Santo said he heard of a case a year ago that a person who died of HIV was refused embalming services in the morgue. The person was also put inside a garbage bag and the casket was wrapped in plastic.

PHILIPPINE HIV AND AIDS POLICY ACT
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