Gov’t support, right to privacy urged for cases of HIV-AIDS
SENATOR Grace Poe, in a statement yesterday marking today’s observance of World AIDS Day, said she is looking into having the government subsidize clinical testing for people stricken with HIV-AIDS (human immunodeficiency virus-acquired immune deficiency syndrome) as well as expand the assistance by the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) for persons afflicted with the disease.
“We have to foster an environment where the sick can receive the necessary care without being judged,” Ms. Poe said in her statement, as she also noted the stigma on people with AIDS and the lack of confidentiality in testing centers in the country.
“It requires courage to have yourself checked. Our health workers have to make sure that a patient’s right to privacy is protected to encourage people with HIV or those at risk for HIV to get tested and pursue medical treatment,” she said.
PhilHealth currently offers each member an annual treatment package of P30,000, a sum released quarterly and covering medicines and laboratory examinations.
Sought for comment, Health Secretary Janette L. Garin said in a text message that HIV testing is a free service in government hospitals and clinics.
“Our bigger problem is how to convince many to know their status and submit for confidential testing. The current thrust is to shift awareness to schools where we can intercept possible patients at the earliest possible time,” Ms. Garin said.
Ms. Poe also said the government should study creating an office in line with the Philippine AIDS Prevention and Control Act of 1998, which ensures and protects the rights and welfare of people afflicted with HIV-AIDS.
“There have been many violations to patients’ rights but no case has reached the courts. Perhaps, we should study creating an office that shall assist and handle HIV-related acts of discrimination,” she said, as she cited data by the Department of Health (DoH) showing a considerable 23,879 cases in the Philippines since 2010.
This year alone, 22 new cases of HIV are reported daily, according to the DoH. The highest number of cases in a single month was 772 in June.
From 1984 to September 2015, 1,309 deaths have also been recorded.