What is true is the alarming rise of the number of people living with HIV in the Philippines and that one of the major reasons for the spike in number is the result of condomless sexual activity and ill-informed minds on sex and sexuality. National statistics show that teenage pregnancy and the prevalence of sexually transmitted infections among our youth are common in situations where sex and human sexuality education are not accessible.
Given that it is a fast growing epidemic, a comprehensive response of access to prevention, treatment care and support is necessary to bring HIV under control. Primarily, a comprehensive and age appropriate sex and sexuality education through the combined efforts of government, civil society and church is paramount to counter the flood of information or misinformation accessible to our young people. The National Council of Churches in the Philippines affirms that sexuality is a gift from God, subscribes to a deliberate, careful and responsible celebration of that gift. Abstinence, being drug free, fidelity and committed relationships are paramount. This should not exclude other evidence informed prevention strategies such as the use of condoms. The correct and consistent use of condoms has proven to be effective in preventing HIV transmission between discordant couples (i.e. one partner is HIV negative and the other is positive).
We also confess that there is more to be desired in addressing certain conditions in society that make our youth vulnerable to pressure and being exposed to HIV. Among these are poverty and other economic imbalances not to mention the social stigma that comes from a misinformed populace. This is true especially in the case of our youth who grow up being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex and where the lack of social and religious acceptance leaves them no room to be authentic.
The Department of Health is the agency primarily responsible for the health of our citizens and must do what has to be done and in line with scientific data and recommendations of agencies like the World Health Organization. We support the provision of condoms in schools within the framework of the effective implementation of a comprehensive and age appropriate sex and sexuality education. This would ensure that the presence of condoms does not “promote” promiscuity but is an educational tool that evokes questions and encourages discussion that takes sexual behavior seriously and promotes health and honesty in sexual relationships.
JUSTICE RAOUL V. VICTORINO, Ret.
BISHOP RODOLFO A. JUAN
MS. SHARON ROSE JOY RUIZ-DUREMDES
MS. LISSA BELLE R. BROWN
MR. REYNALDO M. NATIVIDAD
REV. REX RB REYES, JR.
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