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Hontiveros: HIV/AIDS bill does promote condom use.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros has clarified that Senate Bill 1390, or the 'Philippine Human Immunodeficiency and Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome Policy Acts', includes encouraging condom use to prevent the spread of the auto-immune disease.

Hontiveros on Wednesday stressed that the bill has dedicated Article III to Preventive Measures and Safe Practices and Procedures on the spread on HIV/AIDS.

The senator, who is the main proponent of the bill, said that the article is 'devoted to the provision of evidence-based, gender-responsive, age-appropriate, and human rights-oriented prevention programs and measures.'

Hontiveros issued the statement in reaction to the Human Rights Watch comment that the proposed measure lack specific provisions on the promotion of condom use in preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS.

HRW Asia Division Researcher Carlos Conde called the failure to make the promotion of condom use a government priority a 'big mistake.'

'An improved official response to the epidemic is crucial,' Conde said.

But Hontiveros countered that the proposed measure institutionalizes 'interventions to prevent, halt or control the spread of HIV in the general population, especially among key populations and vulnerable communities.'

'These preventive measures include strategies such as distribution of prophylactics, such as condoms,' she added.

Article II Section 20 of the Senate bill provides 'Information on Prophylactics.' It provides: 'Appropriate information shall be attached to or provided with every prophylactic offered for sale or given as a donation.'

While the article on prevention measures did not specify promoting the use of prophylactics, the bill mandates the Philippine National AIDS Council to 'support preventive measures' that include 'establish comprehensive human rights and evidence-based policies, programs and approaches that aim to reduce transmission of HIIV and its harmful consequences to members of key affected populations.'

Hontiveros added that the Department of Health has institutionalized, in its HIV/STI prevention program, the promotion of '100% Condom Use Program especially for entertainment establishments.'

'What we provide in the new HIV Policy Act is a legal framework that makes these programs target key affected population. We removed the barriers to an effective national HIV response that can actually end this epidemic,' the senator added.

S.B. 1390 was passed on third and final reading last Monday.

The House of Representatives, in December last year, approved House Bill 6617, which has the same title as its Senate counterpart.

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Publication:Philippines Star (Manila, Philippines)
Date:May 23, 2018
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