Filipinos as young as 15 years old should be allowed to get themselves tested for Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) even sans parental consent.
This was the call made by National Youth Commission (NYC) chair Aiza Seguerra, who noted the continuing increase in the number of Filipinos infected with HIV.
According to the HIV/AIDS and ART Registry of the Philippines (HARP) of the Department of Health (DOH), in December 2016 alone, there were 750 new HIV antibody sero-positive individuals reported. Of the number, 34 are adolescents aged 10-19 years; all were infected through sexual contact (five male-female sex, 19 male-male sex, 10 sex with both males and females).
From January 1984 (when the first HIV case was reported in the Philippines) to December 2016, 1,429 (4%) of the reported cases were 19 years old and below. Seven percent (101 out of 1,429) were children (less than 10 y/o) and among them, 98 were infected through mother-to- child transmission, 1 through blood transfusion and 2 had no specified mode of transmission. Ninety-three percent (1,328 out 1,429) were adolescents. Among these, 1,210 (91%) were male. Most (92%) of the adolescents were infected through sexual contact (160 male-female sex, 743 male-male sex, 325 sex with both males and females), 85 (6%) were infected through sharing of infected needles, eight (1%) through mother-to-child transmission, and seven had no specified mode of transmission.
“The face of HIV (infection in the country) is the youth,” Seguerra said.
Under the current law (RA 8504), people under 18 must first secure permission from their parents or guardians before they could get themselves tested and receive treatment for HIV.
Seguerra recognized that “it’s already difficult asking permission from our parents to have a night out. What more if you tell your parents, ‘I’m sexually active. I might have HIV. Please go with me.’ So it’s very hard.”
For Seguerra, therefore, lowering the age of testing could help deal with this issue.
The NYC already launched the “Virus Ends With Us” campaign that eyes to help the DOH in disseminating information about HIV particularly among the youth.