The Commission on Audit (COA) conducted a forum for Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) awareness campaign with free HIV testing to COA employees on 25 January 2019 at the COA Medical Clinic.

Around 100 COA employees participated in the forum which was spearheaded by COA Commissioner Roland C. Pondoc in coordination with the COA Medical and Dental Services and the Quezon City Health Department Batasan Social Hygiene Clinic. The forum was the Commission’s response to the recently passed Republic Act No. 11166 also known as the Philippine HIV and AIDS Policy Act of 2018.

COA Commissioner Roland C. Pondoc discusses salient points of Republic Act No. 11166 or the Philippine HIV and AIDS Policy Act of 2018 at an HIV/AIDS awareness forum at the COA Medical Clinic.

Commissioner Pondoc discussed the main points of RA No. 11166 and the legal basis for conduct of HIV testing to Filipinos especially the youth while Dra. Xeres A. Sabarre discussed the pathology of HIV infections and AIDS. Mr. Romulo M. Gojar, meanwhile, conducted free HIV testing to COA employees.

The government passed RA No. 11166 in response to the reported increase in HIV cases. According to the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, the incidence of HIV positive infection has doubled for the past six years. The Department of Health (DOH) AIDS Registry in the Philippines reported a total of 56, 275 cases since 1984 with additional 646 new cases of HIV in February 2015.

RA No. 11166 aims to prevent discrimination against people who are HIV-positive and encourages both national and local government agencies to participate in the promotion of HIV and AIDS awareness. The law allows 15 to 17 year-olds to avail of HIV testing without the need of parental consent.

According to the DOH, “AIDS infection is one of the neglected disease” and more effort should be done to address its increasing prevalence. Currently, there is no cure for HIV and AIDS, hence only education is the best solution against the issue.

Meanwhile, COA is set to conduct another HIV and AIDS awareness campaign on 21 March 2019.

To find out more about HIV/AIDS incidence in the Philippines, please use the following link: https://www.aidsdatahub.org/sites/default/files/publication/EB_HIV_June_AIDSreg2018.pdf. - By Dr. Karlo A. Cayetano