By Charissa Luci-Atienza
Deputy Speaker Sharon Garin on Thursday cited the need to intensify information dissemination campaign on Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) in Western Visayas after it recorded a total of 2,741 HIV cases since 1986.
She expressed concern that Region 6 was listed as one of the top five regions with the highest number of newly diagnosed cases for December 2018, citing the latest issue of the HIV/AIDS & ART Registry of the Philippines released by the Epidemiology Bureau of the Department of Health (DOH).
Garin, one of the principal authors of the HIV & AIDS Policy Act of 2018 or Republic Act No. 11166, said the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the law should be released soon.
“With the delay of the law’s implementation, more Filipinos become more susceptible to HIV,” she said, noting that President Duterte signed RA 11166 three months ago.
She explained that under Article II of the HIV and AIDS Policy Act of 2018, the Philippine National AIDS Council (PNAC), Department of Education (DepEd), Commission on Higher Education (CHED), and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) shall integrate basic and age-appropriate instruction on the causes, modes of transmission, and ways of preventing the spread of HIV and AIDS and other sexually transmitted transmissions (STIs) in the curricula taught in private and public learning institution, including alternative and indigenous learning systems.
Garin also batted for massive dissemination of information, education and communication (IEC) materials to help Filipinos understand the risks of contracting the virus.
Citing the DOH, she laments that a total of 2,741 HIV cases have been recorded in Western Visayas since 1986, 2,263 of which were asymptomatic and 478 advanced or acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) cases.
She also noted the rising number of cases in the province of Iloilo, her hometown, where 547 cases of HIV infection were recorded as of November of 2018.
The province of Iloilo ranked second to Iloilo City with 719 cases, followed by Negros Occidental (474), Bacolod City (441), Capiz (184), Aklan (178), Antique (143), and Guimaras (55).
Citing the 2018 UN Global Aids Update, Garin said new HIV infections among young people (aged 15–24 years) increased by 170% in Philippines since 2010.
Ordinary Filipinos could help curb the risks of HIV and eliminate the stigma surrounding the HIV and AIDS situation by capitalizing on the available materials and resources online that will help clarify myths and misunderstandings about the HIV and AIDS, she said.