OVER 1,000 Saint Louis University students took part in a one-day HIV–Aids prevention program and information campaign as part of a program being implemented by international contraceptive maker Durex.
Durex manufacturer Reckitt Benckiser is undertaking a nationwide campus education and information campaign against human immunodeficiency virus – acquired immune deficiency syndrome (HIV-Aids).
Karol Canlas, Reckitt Benckiser senior brand manager, said the Baguio campaign is the first to be launched north of Manila, which ushers a series of campus visits culminating at the end of the year with the annual Aids Day commemoration.
Edrian Geronimo, an infectious disease consultant; Rica Cruz, counseling psychologist and sex therapist; and Losif Cadelina, program officer, SafeSpacesPH, briefed Saint Louis University National Service Training Program (NSTP) students on the HIV–Aids situation in the country, safe sex and how to protect themselves from the growing worldwide disease.
Geronimo stressed the difference of HIV, the virus which causes infection which weakens the immune system, and Aids, the last stage of the HIV infection.
Geronimo underscored HIV infection can be acquired when having sex without a condom, sharing injecting equipment, contaminated blood transfusions and from a mother to her baby.
HIV myths were debunked such as acquiring the infection from kissing, hugging, sharing food, insect bites, toilet seats, bathing, sneezing, coughing and sweat.
Cruz acknowledged statistics which point one in every three Filipino youth engage in pre-marital sex, mostly unprotected, before the age of 15.
In her talk, “Let’s Talk About Sex,” Cruz revealed the Philippines has the highest HIV-Aids growth rate in Asia.
“Most of the sexually active Filipino youth think that they will not contract HIV, more alarming, is that our youth has a low level comprehension and knowledge on HIV and other sexually transmitted disease,” she said.
Cruz reminded youth to know how to protect themselves against sexually transmitted diseases.
“We should educate yourselves and be responsible in our relationships, trusting your partner is not enough, we have to have an open communication with each other,” she said. stressing this is key to success in relationships as well as health matters.
The Reproductive Health and Wellness Center of the Baguio City Health Department said it has documented 302 Aids cases with 18 deaths since 1984. Men were found to be most susceptible in acquiring HIV-Aids.
Baguio General Hospital and City Health Department, which are the treatment and satellite hubs in the city, recorded 28 cases of HIV-Aids in Baguio City, involving 26 men and two women from the 25-34 age group.
This age group, which is also the working class, is the new age group with the most number of HIV-Aids cases not only in the city but nationwide.
“We create ripples of positive change, one free HIV test at a time, we give HIV testing, counseling and treatment,” Cadelina said.
An on-the-spot HIV testing was done on campus for those willing with results to be coordinated with the local health office.
Cadelina said the organization is a community of volunteers aiming to reach out to others to propagate ideas, attitudes, and practices that encourage loving oneself and to prevent the spread of the epidemic among the youth and key affected populations as well as treatment for People Living with HIV.
The activity was done in coordination with the Baguio City Health Office and the Department of Health. (Maria Elena Catajan)