Chairman Cariza “Aiza” Seguerra of the National Youth Commission has called for unrestricted distribution of condoms across the country in light of the record-breaking new human immunodeficiency virus cases, which reached 1,098 in May alone.
Seguerra, a former child actress and a professional singer, made the call on Tuesday, citing the HIV and AIDS Registry of the Philippines Report (HARP), which showed that the 1,098 new HIV cases is the highest recorded number of HIV cases in the Philippines since 1984.
HARP said the May 2017 cases represent a 48-percent increase compared with the 741 recorded in May 2016.
“We need the help of everybody here, the government, the private sector, in fixing this. This [rise in HIV virus cases]already happened in Thailand, and they resorted to condom distribution. From college [level]down to pre-schools, students were taught about reproductive health so that they won’t be awkward when condoms are raised in a conversation,” Seguerra said.
The Reproductive Health (RH) Law enacted in 2013 allows the government to provide free contraceptives such as condoms and intrauterine devices.
The RH Law does not contain the word condom but its implementing rules and regulation provide that dispensing of health products such as condoms; natural family planning charts and digital thermometers; standard days method beads; injectables and oral contraceptive pills; and immunization and micronutrient supplementation should only be done by appropriately trained and skilled health professionals.
“In Thailand, you get a whole box of condoms every time you go to the gas station and avail of a full tank. We can’t do that here. If we can’t change that, these cases of HIV will continue to rise, no matter how often we conduct seminars,” Seguerra said.
She urged families and parents of the youth to help combat the deadly virus.
“We really need everybody’s help. This is not just about HIV, but teenaged pregnancy as well. The Philippines already tops Southeast Asia in teenaged pregnancies. That is not a good place to be in,” Seguerra said.
“We can’t deny the situation that is happening. We can’t always invoke cultural sensitivity here because, otherwise, we will be helpless. If we will be proactive, we will have a chance to defeat this,” she added.