Cebu ready to distribute 10T condoms

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Monday, February 14, 2011

CEBU CITY -- As lovers celebrate Valentine’s Day Monday, the Cebu City Health Department will continue to distribute condoms for free. Up to 10,000 condoms are available.

Dr. Ilya Tac-an, the city epidemiologist, said the contraceptives were originally intended for commercial sex workers and those working in the city’s night spots.

Individuals who have been diagnosed with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) will also be prioritized.


But other people who will need condoms will also not be refused when they visit the CHD to ask for it.  

“We have a lot of condoms available for distribution, so we will continue to give them to those who work in night establishments, the freelancers and whoever will visit our office to ask for condoms,” said Tac-an, who is also the STD, HIV and AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome) coordinator for Cebu City.

She said the distribution of free condoms is part of their campaign to prevent the spread of HIV and AIDS in the city.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) earlier requested the Department of Health (DOH) not to give away condoms to couples on Valentine’s Day.

CBCP believes the distribution of condoms could send wrong signals, particularly to the youth, that premarital sex is acceptable as long as long as couples take precautionary measures.

But Tac-an said that making condoms available to those who need it is part of their tasks.

For the whole month, the CHD will be conducting a surveillance as part of its HIV survey and will be taking blood samples of individuals who are at risk.

They also handed out free condoms to identified clients after conducting interviews for the HIV survey. 

Tac-an disclosed that last year alone, they recorded 183 persons who had just found out they had HIV. One was later diagnosed with Aids.
Two new cases were also reported this year, but the CHD is still waiting for the results of the confirmatory tests on the specimen sent to Manila.

Tac-an said, though, that condom use is only one of the three components of the government’s ABC program to prevent HIV and AIDS.
The ABC campaign stands for “Abstinence from sex,” “Be faithful to your partner” and “Condom use.”

“We already know how one can get infected with HIV, it’s through sex and sharing syringes and needles during drug use. So we always remind those injecting drugs not to share needles. And we always have to go back to the basics, the ABC,” Tac-an said.

She also appealed to Cebuanos to undergo HIV tests regularly so they can detect the virus early on, and help prevent the spread of the disease.

AIDS-Free Philippines country director Rene Josef Bullecer earlier clarified that condom use is not the appropriate solution to the rising HIV cases.

In an earlier interview, Bullecer said the distribution of condoms is even a form of discrimination against women, particularly those working in bars, because “it’s as if the government is branding all of them as prostitutes.”

Bullecer believes that abstinence from sex and staying faithful to ones partner is the more effective ways to fight HIV, and not the use of condoms. (ETB of Sun.Star Cebu)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 14, 2011.

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