LET's talk about condoms.

In a setting where heterosexual transmission is steadily increasing, and with young adults found to be increasingly at-risk for HIV and AIDS, there is a need to mainstream condom use as the most effective strategy to prevent the sexual transmission of HIV.

HIV is spread primarily by unprotected sex; having multiple sex partners or presence of other sexually transmitted diseases which can increase the risk of infection and the sharing of needles and syringes.

Statistics on HIV/AIDS show that each year over half of the new HIV infections worldwide are among 15 to 24 year olds. More than 23% of Filipino adolescents have engaged in premarital sex, with 42% of them reporting consensual sex, 32.5% not wanting it but going along with it, and 2% being forced into the sexual encounter (Raymundo & Cruz, 2004).

Nearly 40 percent of young men have sex with another person other than their primary partner, and over 20% of males 20-24 years old have visited a commercial sex workers. Three-fourths of sexually active young adults were found not currently using any method of contraception, regardless of marital status and 69 percent of sexually active young men between the ages of 15-24 have never used condoms.

It is high time to focus on the reproductive health needs of adolescents and youth, an area which has long been overlooked simply because of the collective denial on the need for them to access reproductive health services, including HIV testing, treatment and education.

Sexual behavior, identity and gender are complex and need to be fully understood. Access to tests and treatments will make it possible to save lives. We can respond better. Email comments to roledan@gmail.com