DEPARTMENT of Health (DOH) in Iloilo has defended the free condom drive initiated last Valentine’s Day in Metro Manila as part of a nationwide campaign and public awareness program against the spread of Human Immuno Virus-Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome (HIV-Aids).

DOH Center for Health Development-Western Visayas Regional Director Ariel Valencia said the campaign spearheaded by Health Secretary Esperanza Cabral was made as the dreaded HIV-Aids continues its “silent” onslaught on the Filipinos.

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The Valentine’s condom campaign was highly criticized by the Catholic Church for being “immoral”.

However, the DOH said it is a timely reminder to the public on the importance of responsible sexual behavior and not meant to promote artificial contraception.

Valencia said that in Western Visayas alone, there are already several cases registered and more HIV victims are coming out in the open to seek help and understanding from the public.

The DOH said the condom distribution should not be construed as a signal that the government is advocating sexual licentiousness. The free condoms were just a tool of a creative campaign aimed at promoting awareness on HIV-Aids prevention at a most opportune time on Valentine’s Day.

Valencia said his department is not pushing condom use campaign as the exclusive method to combat the disease but a part of the three-point campaign to combat HIV-Aids, also known by the acronym ABC -- A for “abstinence from sex”, B for “be faithful to your partner” and C for “condom use.”

The free condoms were supplied by DKT, a private merchandising firm, to promote the use of condom as effective deterrent against the disease. (LCP)