National emergency—this is how the government should treat the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the country, according to Dr. Rossana Ditangco, head of the AIDS Research Group of the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM). One reason, among many others, is the UNAIDS report last year saying that the Philippines has the fastest growing HIV epidemic in Asia-Pacific. Yup, that’s alarming.
These rising HIV numbers has come to the attention of global brand Durex, and prompted them to launch the campaign, “Always Come Prepared.” In partnership with HIV-testing advocacy group Love Yourself and Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), the campaign hopes to bring the conversation of the HIV threat into a more understandable level and easy to digest way for the general public, particularly the young adults.
Here are some key points in the awareness campaign:
HIV cases in PH has increased by 174% in the past 8 years
The incidence of new transmissions of the HIV has slowed down around the world. In the Philippines, however, official data from the UNAIDS show that there has been a 174 percent increase in HIV cases since 2010.
NCR and Cebu are among the regions with the highest reported HIV infections last year
Around 80% of reported infections from last year came from the following regions: National Capital Region, Regions 3, 4, 7, 11.
The youth has the highest infection rate
According to HIV/AIDS & ART Registry Data (June 2018), there are 993 new cases for the month of June, with people aged 25-34 having the highest infection rate at 512 (52%).
The median age for first sexual encounter in PH is 16 years old
According to 2015 and 2016 data, 15-16 is the median age for Filipino people who had sex for the first time. Meanwhile, the median age for those who do their first anal sex is 17 years old, while people start to use condom at 18 years old.
Premarital sex is most prevalent among high school graduates
Among the student age group, high school graduates have the highest number of percentage (43.5%) who had premarital sex. Meanwhile, the college graduates have the highest percentage with comprehensive knowledge of HIV/AIDS with 25.7%.
HIV Prevalence is highest in people who inject drugs
In the Philippines, those who have HIV were mostly people who inject drugs. A high number is from Cebu City. Other people who acquire HIV were transgenders, men who have sex with men, and female sex workers.
The existing laws are prohibitive
While the median age of premarital sex is low, access to reproductive health services is prohibited to adults (18 years old), becoming one of the main factors contributing to these increasing numbers.
Condom use in the country is generally low
Despite these alarming numbers, condom use is still relatively low in the Philippines. Condoms are still the only known effective method of preventing the transmission of HIV and other STDs aside from abstaining.
The Always Come Prepared is a campaign by global condom brand Durex, which aims to amplify the message of protecting one’s self from the threat of HIV and other sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs). The campaign banners the trio of Boys Night Out – Sam YG, Toni Tony, and Slick Rick as campaign advocates, HIV-testing advocacy group Love Yourself, and UNAIDS. Know more about the campaign by tracing the hashtag #AlwaysComePrepared.
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