THE government expressed alarm over the reported increasing cases of Human Immuno Virus-Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (HIV-Aids) among call center agents.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita on Wednesday said this case should be given proper attention by the concerned government agencies since business process outsourcing (BPO) has contributed a lot to the economic progress of the country.

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A study conducted by the University of the Philippines Population Institute and the Department of Health (DOH) showed that due to the environment and peer pressure among call center agents, they are tend to involve in risky sexual behaviors.

Dr. Eric Tayag, chief of the National Epidemiology Center (NEC) said that “from 1984 to 2009, a total of 4,424 HIV cases have been reported in the Philippines.” This incidence is not just concentrated in Metro Manila but also in other urban places like Cebu.

To address the rising problem in HIV, deputy presidential spokesperson Gary Olivar said that the health and labor departments have issued policy guidelines to prevent the spread of this incurable disease.

Olivar quoted Tayag as saying, “the Dole (Department of Labor and Employment) has already issued policy guidelines on the occupational safety and health of workers in the call center industry. The DOH also forged a collaborative partnership with Dole to oversee and manage the implementation of health programs in the workplace.”

This action was welcomed by Ermita lauding the vigilance of the health and labor departments. “I’m very glad that our authorities are very detailed and we congratulate them for taking cognizance.”

In a separate study conducted by the NEC, Tayag cited that their study also revealed that call centers are at risk of HIV due to their high prevalent risk behavior for lifestyle diseases due to cigarette smoking, substance abuse alcohol and illicit drugs, poor nutrition, and inadequate exercise and unsafe sexual practices. (Jill Beltran/Sunnex)