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New HIV laws will let minors get tested without parental consent in the Philippines

New HIV laws will let minors get tested without parental consent in the Philippines

Philippines LGBTI advocates. Photo: Twitter

In order to combat the skyrocketing rates of new HIV cases among young people in the Philippines, new laws will allow minors to get tested without their parents’ permission.

The HIV and AIDS Policy Act lapsed into law last week which advocates hope will strengthen the country’s response to its HIV crisis.

Philippines has already had more than 7,600 new HIV diagnosis this year alone. The south-east Asian nation has experienced a 174% increase in new infections since 2010. Some HIV experts have described the epidemic as a ‘national emergency’.

Young people are particularly affected. The Philippines has one of the highest proportion of adolescents living with HIV at almost 10% of total people living with HIV.

The Department of Health estimated in less than 10 years more than 90% of people living with HIV will be under 30.

The country’s Senate and House of Representatives ratified the Bill in October and it awaited President Rodrigo Duterte’s signature to become law.

But Duterte didn’t sign the Bill and after 30 days it lapsed into law. Bills passed in parliament which are not acted upon within 30 days are automatically passed into law.

What does the new law feature?

The new law clarifies the roles of government bodies and gives them the power to tackle the crisis. It institutionalizes a national-level plan with a multi-year strategy to tackle the epidemic.

Lawmakers have said it is human-rights based, and will ensure the dignity of people living with HIV.

It will remove the age-related restrictions to HIV testing, allowing minors to get tested without parental consent. This will help to tackle the high rates of new cases among young men who have sex with men.

The law guarantees free HIV treatment, including medicines to treat HIV-related infections. It also provides for care and support programs for PLHIVs.

Critics have noted the bill falls short on some points by promoting abstinence and fidelity rather than condom use.