PAO appeals acquittal of dentists who nixed to treat HIV patient

By Benjamin Pulta

April 26, 2023, 5:44 pm

MANILA – A discrimination suit was filed before the Supreme Court (SC) by the Public Attorney's Office (PAO) Wednesday in behalf of an individual infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) who was refused treatment by his dentists.
In a petition, the PAO asked the High Tribunal to review the Court of Appeals’ (CA) decision that denied the complainant’s appeal on the decision handed by the Taguig City Metropolitan Trial Court (MeTC) regarding the criminal complaint he filed against Dr. Sarah Jane Mugar and Dr. Mylene Guevarra-Igrubay.
The man, a Makati resident, filed the complaint for alleged violation of Sec. 40 of RA 8504, otherwise known as the Philippine AIDS Prevention and Control Act, before the Taguig court, which acquitted the two.
Court records show that the complainant, on Valentine's Day of 2017, sought treatment for his left molar, and after an initial examination it was determined that the molar needed to be extracted. However, he was informed that he needed to first undergo clotting or bleeding diagnostic test.
Upon his return, following the completion of the test, he was informed by the dentists that they cannot conduct the molar extraction because they do not have ultraviolet-type sterilization equipment. 
"Obviously, the excuse given by Dr. Mugar and Dr. Guevarra-Igrubay was hard to believe considering that EDC (the dental clinic) boasts of advance dental equipment on its website. (The complainant) was even asked to secure a clearance so that an appointment can be made. The reason for the denial was apparent -- this is because (the complainant) is afflicted with HIV," the PAO said.
The complaint said that "in the Philippines, laws on anti-discrimination are already in place. But unless the law is enforced and the state recognizes acts of discrimination, discrimination will never end."
HIV is a sexually-transmitted infection but can also be spread through contact with infected blood and use of infected needles as well as from mother to child during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding. (PNA)