Condoms can be an educational tool
Alarming is the rise in the number of people living with HIV in the Philippines, and one of the major reasons for the spike in number is the result of condomless sexual activities and of minds ill-informed on sex and sexuality. National statistics show that teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections among our youth are common in situations where sex and human sexuality education are not accessible.
Given that HIV is a fast-spreading epidemic, a comprehensive response facilitating access to prevention, treatment care and support is necessary to bring the disease under control.
Primarily, a comprehensive and age-appropriate sex and sexuality education, through the combined efforts of government, civil society and church groups, is imperative to counter the flood of misinformation reaching our young people.
The National Council of Churches in the Philippines affirms that sexuality is a gift from God, and subscribes to a deliberate, careful and responsible celebration of that gift. Abstinence, being drug-free, fidelity and committed relationships are paramount. But these should not exclude other evidence-informed prevention strategies such as the use of condoms. The correct and consistent use of condoms has proven to be effective in preventing HIV transmission between discordant couples (i.e., one partner is HIV negative and the other is positive).
We admit that there is more to be desired in addressing certain conditions in society that make our youth vulnerable to pressure and HIV exposure. Among these is poverty, not to mention the social stigma that comes from a misinformed populace. This is true especially in the case of our young who grow up being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex, and where the lack of social and religious acceptance leaves them no room to be authentic.
The Department of Health is the agency primarily responsible for the health of our citizens and it must do what has to be done, in line with scientific data and the recommendations of agencies like the World Health Organization. We support the distribution of condoms in schools within the framework of the effective implementation of a comprehensive and age-appropriate sex and sexuality education. This would ensure that the presence of condoms does not “promote” promiscuity but is an educational tool that evokes questions and encourages discussion that takes sexual behavior seriously and promotes health and honesty in sexual relationships.
JUSTICE RAOUL V. VICTORINO (ret.), REV. SHARON ROSE JOY RUIZ-DUREMDES, BISHOP RODOLFO A. JUAN , LISSA BELLE R. BROWN, REYNALDO M. NATIVIDAD, REV. REX RB REYES JR., National Council of Churches in the Philippines, 879 Edsa, West Triangle, Quezon City
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