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New law to ensure necessary care, support are given to OFWs living with AIDS/HIV


By Charissa Luci-Atienza

ACTS-OFW Rep. Aniceto Bertiz III said Sunday the Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) living with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) will be given necessary care and support under the new AIDS Prevention and Control Law.

He noted that Republic Act 11166, which takes effect on Jan. 25 tasks the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) to provide economic, social, and medical support for OFWs with HIV.

“Under Section 37 of the new law, the OWWA, together with other agencies, is duty-bound to develop a program to provide a stigma-free comprehensive reintegration, care, and support program, including economic, social, and medical support for OFWs with HIV, regardless of employment status and stage in the migration process,” Bertiz said in a statement.

He also cited that from January to November 2018, a total of 856 OFWs were newly diagnosed with HIV.

“Section 17 of the new law also requires all overseas-bound Filipino workers as well as Philippine government staff for foreign posting to undergo a seminar on the causes, manner of prevention, and impact of HIV and AIDS, prior to certification for deployment or assignment,” Bertiz said.

“The mandatory preventive education seminar is to be provided for free and at no cost to OFWs or to the staff concerned,” the partylist lawmaker said.

Since 1984 when the government began passive surveillance, there have been 6,179 OFWs found living with HIV, Bertiz said.

OFWs with HIV now account for 10 percent of the 61,152 confirmed cases in the National HIV/AIDS Registry, he said.

Of the 6,179 OFWs in the registry, he said 5,317, or 86 percent, were male with the median age of 32 years.

Majority of the male cases, or 72 percent, were infected through sexual contact among MSM, or men who have sex with men (2,203 from male-to-male sex and 1,607 from sex with both males and females).

The median age of the 862 female OFWs in the registry is 34 years.

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