SENATOR Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go appealed to the public to help contain the spread of HIV (human immunodeficiency virus).
Go, chairman of the Senate health committee, made the appeal after expressing alarm over reports that new HIV infections in the Philippines have increased by more than double from 2010 to 2016.
‘’I am encouraging everyone to have themselves checked, it’s all with confidentiality. It is good if you’re negative of the virus, and if you’re positive it is better that you get medication as early as possible,” he said.
Go pointed out that President Rodrigo Duterte had signed the Philippine HIV and AIDS Policy Act “to effectively address growing HIV cases in the country by forging stronger alliance among government agencies, private sectors, civil society, media and other stakeholders.”
Last July 2019, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III signed the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of the law.
Among the significant provisions of the law are: comprehensive intervention for key affected population, more care and support to all people living with HIV, including their families and orphaned children, stiffer penalties for breaching the confidentiality rule with regard to one’s HIV status and provision against deprivation of any person with HIV of private health insurance under a Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) and private life insurance coverage on the basis of a person’s HIV status.
There are 85 HIV treatment hubs strategically located in various parts of the country, as of May 2018. Among the services offered are screening and basic laboratory testing, treatment and management of HIV-related illness and counseling.
“The Philippines has a small window of opportunity to act now and stop a major HIV epidemic from taking hold,” said Eamonn Murphy, Director UNAIDS Regional Support Team for Asia-Pacific.
Philippine data showed that in 2016, 83 percent of GO newly reported HIV cases occurred among males who have sex with males (MSM) and transgender women who have sex with males (TGW). Majority of the new infections are occurring among 15 to 24 year old MSM and TGW.
Meanwhile, Senator Go attended the launching of the 47th Malasakit Center in the country at the Davao Regional Medical Center in Tagum City, Davao del Norte.
Together with some local government officials in Davao region and representatives from concerned government agencies, Go said that more Malasakit Centers will be launched in other areas of the country, particularly in government-run hospitals.
The senator also expressed his elation on the launching of the Malasakit Center in the regional hospital, the fourteenth in Mindanao, as it will serve patients in Tagum City and nearby cities and municipalities too.
“Lubos po ang aking kasiyahan na bubuksan natin ngayong araw dito sa Davao Regional Medical Center ang ika-47 na Malasakit Center sa Pilipinas at ika-14 sa Mindanao. Isang magandang kaganapan po ito para sa ating mga kababayan na kailangan ng tulong pang-ospital, hindi lang dito sa Tagum kundi maging sa mga karatig nitong lugar,” Go said.
Declaring health as one of his priorities, Go said that he will continue to push programs such the Malasakit Center that can provide and improve access of all Flipinos to quality medical.