“We are one with UNAIDS recommendations. We are already doing that and we can further strengthen, especially focusing on high-risk groups,” DOH Undersecretary Gerardo Bayugo said, reacting to the statement of new UNAIDS country director Louie Ocampo.    Andriy Rovenko/AFP

DOH backs condom use vs HIV
(The Philippine Star) - February 4, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) yesterday backed the advocacies of the new country director of the United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) in the Philippines for condom use and comprehensive sexuality education as key measures to curb the HIV epidemic.      

“We are one with UNAIDS recommendations. We are already doing that and we can further strengthen, especially focusing on high-risk groups,” DOH Undersecretary Gerardo Bayugo said, reacting to the statement of new UNAIDS country director Louie Ocampo.   

According to Bayugo, the promotion of condom use is already part of the DOH’s programs, especially for groups that are at high risk for HIV infection.

“We encourage those who engage in risky behavior to know their status by having themselves tested in our clinics. It is part of our campaign to practice safe sex and the use of condoms is one of the protective measures against HIV,” he noted.

On the other hand, Bayugo maintained that sexuality education is already spelled out in the country’s existing law, apparently referring to Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012. 

“It’s part of the curriculum in our schools. It is incorporated in the different modules along with the K-12 scheme of the Department of Education,” he added. 

Rights advocates said low condom use has been identified as the main reason why HIV infections exploded in the Philippines in the past decade.

Human Rights Watch said it noted the lack of a national campaign to promote condom use in an earlier report it released.             

Carlos Conde of HRW reiterated the Philippines has the fastest growing HIV rate in the Asia-Pacific.

Conde said Ocampo’s statement “is a desperately needed call to action,” but that the new UNAIDS chief, a 44-year-old Filipino, faces a daunting task.

“Successive Philippine governments have failed miserably to propagate condom use and educate young Filipinos to avoid HIV transmission. The main hurdle has been the lack of political will to resist the deeply rooted opposition to these measures,” Conde said.

Conde added Ocampo and UNAIDS will need to convince the government to break down the barriers to low condom access and use, particularly from the Catholic Church and conservative political leaders.             

“Providing comprehensive sexuality education, which is already mandated by law, should be enforced as soon and as widely as possible. This is crucial because HIV prevalence is increasing among Filipinos aged 15 to 24, mostly men and transgender women who have sex with men,” the group said.

Philstar
  • Latest
  • Trending
Latest
Are you sure you want to log out?
X
Login

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

SIGN IN
or sign in with