HIV, teen pregnancy stalk Filipino youth – senator

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YOUNG Filipinos are enjoying more perks and a better life but they also face serious problems such as early pregnancy, the threat of human immunodeficiency virus-acquired immune deficiency syndrome (HIV-AIDS) and smoking-related diseases, according to Sen. Risa Hontiveros.

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In her speech during an International Youth Day forum recently, Hontiveros expressed alarm over the continuous rise of HIV cases among the youth.

Based on a survey conducted by the Department of Health (DOH), HIV cases in the Philippines increased by 230 percent from 2011 to 2015. Majority of those who acquired HIV are young people.

In Metro Manila alone, 202 new cases were recorded in May this year, the senator said.

“What is also troubling is that in a survey done by the DOH, three out of five young Filipinos think that they are immune to HIV. To set the record straight, there is no available vaccine against HIV,” Hontiveros stressed.

The Philippines is one of several countries where HIV/AIDS cases continue to rise despite growing public awareness of the dreaded disease and the implementation of intervention programs by the Health department.

Hontiveros, who chairs the Senate committee on health and demography, has filed Senate
Bill 376 or the Philippine HIV and AIDS Bill which seeks to introduce a legal framework on HIV that incorporates lessons from the present HIV response and introduces newer strategies to prevent and treat the epidemic.

The senator expressed belief that an updated law can help prevent if not minimize the cases of HIV in the country.

She is also considering partnering with youth health advocates to combat the dreaded diseases.

Hontiveros said teenage pregnancy is also a problem because it is one of the major reasons why young women drop out of school. The senator said one in 10 girls in the country aged 15 to 19 is already a mother.

“In Southeast Asia, we are a gold medalist in having the highest rate of teen pregnancy,” the senator lamented.

These statistics, she noted, stresses the need to fully implement the comprehensive sexuality education component of Republic Act 10354 the Reproductive health law.

Based on a report on the implementation of the RH law, the Department of Education (DepEd) has not yet developed the minimum standards of comprehensive sexuality education that should be included in the curriculum.

Hontiveros said smoking is also a concern because Filipino youth start puffing at a younger age.

One in every eight Filipino youth aged 13 to 15 are smokers, she said.

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