It was an evening of love and pride when Love Gala 2017 concluded with the first ever Ripple Awards on November of 2017. Ten individuals were recognized for their remarkable contributions to the HIV and AIDS advocacy. One of the awardees is Senator Ana Theresia Hontiveros-Baraquiel. Senator Hontiveros is the incumbent chair of the senate committee on women, children, family relations, and gender equality.

Not unknown to many, Sen. Hontiveros, spearheaded the Senate Bill 1390 (An Act Strengthening the Philippine Comprehensive Policy on HIV and AIDS), which aims to improve access to HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment in the country.

SB 1390 will serve as an update to the Republic Act 8504 (Philippines AIDS Prevention and Control Act of 1998) by introducing more recent evidence and research findings. This will, in turn, give way to the devising of new strategies that better suit today’s society in combating the epidemic. Specifically, it seeks to improve access to HIV services for the key population, especially vulnerable communities; strengthen the anti-discrimination protection as stated in RA 8504; and ensure social and financial risk protection for People Living with HIV (PLHIV).

The bill has been approved by the bicameral conference committee as of 10 October 2018 and is now awaiting the President’s signature. This is a huge step forward in the HIV and AIDS advocacy and is bringing high hopes to the community.

Hontiveros, still creating ripples of positive change in the Philippine legislation, championed bills centered on women’s welfare and family relations. One example is Senate Bill 1888 (Prevention of Adolescent Pregnancy Act) aims to improve young mothers’ access to health care all throughout the course of pregnancy. It also emphasizes the importance of sex education, especially focusing on the youth and its relevance to them. More Ripplers are to be recognized at the next Love Gala. Nominate your local HIV advocacy champions today!

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