THE year has not even fully begun but we already have our first news on human immunodeficiency virus-acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV-Aids).
Digos City Health Office (Digos-CHO) recently reported that the city has been placed in “Category B” level, wherein the number of residents who are tested positive of HIV-Aids in a year reaches to five to six. There were 11 cases of HIV-Aids recorded by the Digos CHO. Since 1984, there are now 69 HIV-Aids cases in Digos City.
The number of cases in the same city may be tiny compared to the 2,594 HIV-Aids cases recorded in Davao City since 1984. But this does not mean that we should not be alarmed of the number of cases happening in Digos City.
As compared to other countries, the Philippines' has a much lower HIV/Aids infection rate. However, according to a report by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and Aids the new infections in the Philippines have more than doubled in 2016 to an estimated 10,500 from 4,300 in 2010.
Data across different ages and groups would show that majority of those being infected with Aids are males who have sex with males.
While the government, health organizations, and Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender groups have been active in the prevention of HIV/Aids, there should also be a more active role among other influential institutions in Philippine society - the families, schools, and churches.
When it comes to the discussion of HIV/Aids and sex among the three institutions, there is still a stigma to it or it is still being seen as a taboo.
It is a good thing that the Department of Education is developing age-appropriate sex education in the basic elementary and high school curriculum. However, the Commission on Higher Education should also develop sex education in the college curriculum considering that majority of those being infected with HIV-Aids are those that are between 15 to 24 years old.
Considering the influence of the church in Philippine society, the government and advocates might want to consider working with them on the prevention of HIV-Aids.
Meanwhile, for the families, there could probably a way for groups and advocates to provide parents information on HIV-Aids like what to do when a daughter or son is infected by it; characteristics or symptoms of the disease; and even the simple topic of sex.
By empowering the influential institutions in the society, maybe they can play a big role in helping lower the HIV-Aids infection rate in the city.