THE Commission on Human Rights(CHR) on Friday called out the government for the reported inadequate supply of medications for the treatment of people living with human immunodeficiency virus (PLHIV).

“[T]here are reports regarding inadequate supply of antiretroviral (ARV) drugs, which are crucial for the treatment of PLHIVs. To truly provide proper medication and treatment, it is exigent to guarantee the sufficient and steady supply of ARVs. With the increasing surge of patients, it is imperative for the DoH to accurately forecast the demand and immediately address the gaps in the supply chain,” CHR Spokesperson Jacqueline Ann C. De Guia said in a statement on Friday.

ARV drugs can delay or halt the onset of AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) after a person is infected with HIV.

She said proactive measures to educate the public on the transmission of the virus and how to avoid the infection at the onset are also “equally important.”

Ms. De Guia also welcomed the signing of the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of Republic Act No. 11166 or the Philippine HIV and AIDS Policy Act.

“With the IRR, we can now look forward to the expedient and proper execution of the said law, which is a concrete step in the efforts to curb the growing Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) epidemic in the country,” she said.

The CHR is hopeful that the signing of the IRR will pave the way for the elimination of discrimination towards PLHIV.

“Through a human rights approach, we can better safeguard the dignity of PLHIV while helping ensure that fewer people will get infected,” Ms. De Guia noted.

A 2017 report by the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS noted that the Philippines has the fastest growing HIV epidemic in the Asia and Pacific region.

Approximately 93,400 Filipinos will be living with HIV by the end of the year, according to the Department of Health.

“Hence, the efficient and urgent roll-out of these policies cannot be overemphasized,” Ms. De Guia said.

“[T]he new law ensures application of human rights principles to address stigma and discrimination. Given that about 30% of new cases affect the youth, it also enables minors 15 years of age to get tested even without [parental] consent. The law also ascertains that ‘no HIV/AIDS patient shall be denied or deprived of public health insurance and private life insurance coverage on the basis of a person’s HIV status.‘ In addition, the Insurance Commission made sure that there will be medical coverage [given] to people living with HIV by health maintenance organizations under their recently released Circular Letter No. 2019-30,” she explained. — Arjay L. Balinbin