Editorial: Mind that 'love-making'

IT'S Valentine's and everyone's seeing red. Let that not be rage, but love. Let not that be Aids, but health.

In our series of in-depth report on HIV-Aids (Human Immunodeficiency Virus-Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome) last week, February 6 to 7, the extent of the infection and how it affects the young productive and reproductive ages should warn us of the risks involved when one indulges in a lifestyle where sexual contact outside a monogamous relationship is high.

Department of Health (DOH) statistics show that the most number of modes of transmission of reported deaths came from male-to-male sex, with 874 from January 1984 to November 2016, followed by sex with both males and females (489), male-female sex (480), injecting drug use (43), mother to child (16), and blood transfusion (9).

Clearly, there is a lifestyle slant to the figures and this is what sexually active persons should be aware of. HIV can affect anyone, it is not on how one looks or what status in life one has, but on how one behaves sexually.

As DOH December 2016 statistics show, of the 66 individuals who tested positive of HIV for the period after paying for sex or accepting payment for sex, a total of 35 acquired HIV after paying for sex, of which all except one are males, while 23 or 35 percent of these were those who accepted payment of which 21 are males and only two females.

This disputes stereotypes that HIV-Aids is spread by prostituted women.

Rather, this reflects the high level of awareness of the prostituted women, having been the focus of information dissemination campaigns since HIV-Aids awareness became a prime concern in the 1980s.

There is a big unserved sector here, the males, and it means a lot when the males themselves step out and recognize that they are as vulnerable, especially because they believe they are not.

It's laudable that the Reproductive Health and Wellness Center (RHWC) of Davao City is making major inroads in encouraging people to come out and be tested not just through media engagements but also through its community based screening (CBS) program that fields out CBS motivators in communities where lifestyle profiles of the HIV-positive are more prevalent.

It's said that the RHWC's success in encouraging people with risky sexual behaviors to come out and be tested has drawn in even those from outside the city to seek assistance as well. Still, there is need to further enhance the reach as more and more youths are becoming sexually active, what with gadgets that stimulate their hormones into levels that can drive them to actively seek out sex partners.

It does not help that many still refuse to admit that more and more teenage boys and girls are experimenting with their bodies and still squirm at the thought that these same teenage boys and girls will be taught about sex in school. The numbers are telling us, that this is now our reality, this is our world now. Let's face it and act on it, especially today, Valentine's Day, when pledges of love may become physical.
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