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Parents urged to shield kids from HIV

By CHARINA CLARISSE L. ECHALUCE

The Department of Health (DoH) has called on parents to help their children get more informed about the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that has infected over 12,000 young people from 1984 to 2017 in the country.

Health Secretary Paulyn Jean Ubial made the call during the launch of its program dubbed “Healthy Young Ones” which aims to educate the youth, as well as other sectors of the society, about HIV.

“What we are trying to do now is we launched a program iyong ‘Healthy Young Ones’ which is our youth program. It’s focusing on the behavior of young people and how to stay healthy.

The health secretary said they also want to educate all other support groups dealing with the youth, such as the teachers, parents and their peers, and other healthcare providers about the illness.

Based on the latest data from the HIV/AIDS Registry of the Philippines (HARP), 325 or 30 percent of the HIV cases in May 2017 were youth aged 15 to 24 years. All of them were infected through sexual contact, and 192 of them are males who had sex with males (MSM).

From January 1984 to May 2017, a total of 12,065 or 27 percent of the reported HIV cases were between 15 to 24 years old; 10,148 or 84 percent of which were reported from January 2012 to May 2017.

In view of this report, Ubial is encouraging parents to bring their children to the nearest DoH facility so they could be more aware of HIV.

If parents cannot discuss with their children matters regarding sexuality, considering the conservative culture in the Philippines, they could seek the help of health professionals, she said.

“If parents are not comfortable about talking to their teenage children, then we ask them also to come to the health facility and the DoH will help them to counsel their children,” she stated.

The Philippines has been tagged as the country with fastest growing HIV epidemic in Asia, according the United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS Report.

“A UNAIDS Report on the global HIV epidemic states that the number of new infections in the Philippines has more than doubled in the past six years from an estimated 4,300 in 2010 to an estimated 10,500 in 2016. The Philippines has become the country with the fastest growing HIV epidemic in Asia and the Pacific, and has become one of eight countries that account for more than 85 percent of new HIV infections in the region,” Ubial disclosed.

Dr. Genesis Samonte of the DoH-EB, on the other hand, revealed that from 2010 to 2016, eight out of 10 of reported cases were MSMs. She said that risky behaviors start early among MSM while use of protection starts too late.

“Why is MSM at risk? Because risky behaviors are starting very young. On the average, the first sex [of an MSM] happens at 16 years old and when you look at the range of MSM having sex, you will see that the start of sex happen at 13, 14 years old. First anal sex at 17 [years old] but first condom use happens two years after they actually started having sex. So they are already having sex for two years before they use protection. And the first HIV test happens at 22, which is about six years after first six. And as you all know HIV is an infection that can cause death within 10 years,” she noted.

In 2015, only 35 percent of 15 to 24-year-old MSM and transgender women who had sex with males had correct knowledge on HIV.

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