MANILA, Philippines - Policemen found to be HIV-positive or afflicted with AIDS will not be dismissed from the service, according to Philippine National Police (PNP) spokesman Chief Superintendent Agrimero Cruz Jr.
The PNP has given assurance that information on policemen infected with the disease will remain confidential, even as it conducts programs aimed at increasing awareness.
“Reasonable assignment accommodations for HIV-positive PNP personnel will be given upon the recommendation of the duly authorized medical officer and will not be separated from the service based solely on actual, perceived or suspected HIV status,” Cruz said.
He said that the PNP strictly complies with medical confidentiality in handling medical information, particularly the identity and status of persons with HIV.
PNP chief Director General Nicanor Bartolome said their attitude towards HIV-positive policemen would be “non discriminatory” and “non-stigmatizing.”
“Full assistance will be provided since our priority is to secure their welfare and benefits of all personnel,” he said.
The PNP did not say how many policemen have been diagnosed with HIV or AIDS.
Republic Act 8504 or the AIDS Law states that discrimination in all its forms against individuals with or those suspected of having HIV will be considered detrimental to individual and national interest.
Penalty for discriminatory acts shall be imprisonment for six months to four years and a fine not exceeding P10,000.
Cruz said the PNP Health Service is stepping up measures to educate the 143,000 policemen on their susceptibility to HIV and AIDS.
He said the prevention and control program seeks to promote awareness among policemen to protect the rights and liberties of infected PNP personnel.
The program also aims to create a mechanism for monitoring, evaluating and reporting of HIV/AIDS cases in the PNP.
The prevention and control program will be integrated in all mandatory training and schooling activities of the PNP.
Educational materials like booklets, leaflets and flyers would be distributed to PNP personnel who will also undergo training and counseling.
“Information, education and social support programs shall foster a spirit of understanding and compassion for people with HIV infection/AIDS as well as their families,” Cruz said.
The Department of Health (DOH), meanwhile, concurred with the PNP that RA 8504 provides infected individuals protection against “discriminatory acts.”
DOH Assistant Secretary Eric Tayag said the law “does not allow” those found positive for the AIDS virus to be discriminated in the workplace, in school, hospitals and health institutions.
The law also guarantees their rights to travel and habitation, their rights to seek public office, to secure credit and insurance services and to burial services.
The law also revokes the licenses or permits of the institutions found guilty of committing discriminatory acts.
Based on the DOH’s Philippine HIV and AIDS Registry, there were 8,850 HIV cases, including 985 AIDS cases from 1984 to February 2012. Death toll has reached 345.
The AIDS virus is transmitted through unprotected sexual contact, transfusion of infected blood, sharing of needles by drug users, needle prick injuries and mother-to-child transmission. – Sheila Crisostomo