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DOH to distribute free condoms in schools as part of anti-HIV/AIDS campaign

The Department of Health (DOH) will distribute free condoms in schools as part of its ongoing campaign against HIV and AIDS, Health Secretary Paulyn Jean Rosell-Ubial announced on Unang Balita.

Ubial explained on Friday that the controversial move was made to educate students about HIV/AIDS and to follow proven strategies in reducing infection among the youth.

"The condom distribution will not be openly distributed but it will be a venue to discuss to the young people how to prevent HIV/AIDS," she said.

"This is a strategy that is evidence-based. Marami na pong pagsusuri sa ibang bansa, na even in Catholic schools ginawa po nila itong strategy na ito. And hindi po dumami ang nagse-sex, kung hindi kumonti 'yung teenage pregnancies at kumonti ang nagkakaroon ng sexually-transmitted infection," Ubial added.

Details of the plan are being fleshed out with the Department of Education (DepEd) as minors require parental consent under Philippine law to procure prophylactics.

The late Health Secretary Juan Flavier's old ABCs of safe sex will remain the DOH's main advocacy among youths.



Youths are taught to abstain from sex and if they cannot delay their sexual debut, to remain faithful to their partners, and to have their partners remain faithful to them.

As a last resort, they must use condoms and other forms of contraceptives that would protect them against the spread of genital diseases.

Peer counseling through partner organizations is also in the works to provide an alternative means of distributing information and condoms.

Ubial said Catholic institutions are helping the government distribute information on HIV/AIDS but are still against the use of prophylactics, which are proven to be effective in stopping the spread of the virus.

"Ang gusto po nating tulong sa Simbahan ay 'yung correct information. 'Wag ho 'yung misinformation ang pinapalaganap nila," she said.

"Dito sa HIV/AIDS, kailangan rin po, malaking bahagi ng ating campaign is the information and also education of the public on how to prevent HIV transmission and also to have themselves tested if they are doing risky behavior," Ubial added.

While this is not a population control measure, Ubial said this disease prevention strategy cannot be separated from family planning due to the equipment involved.

"Hindi po natin hinihiwalay kasi 'yung tinatawag nating family planning with the strategy to prevent sexually-transmitted infections with the use of condom. So malaki rin po ang teenage pregnancies natin. We can prevent that through the use of condoms," she said.

The DOH, World Health Organization (WHO), and their partner organizations urged parents on World AIDS Day on Thursday to teach safe sex at home to curb the alarming rise of HIV/AIDS among youths.

A total of 7,756 new HIV/AIDS cases were reported from January to October and 3,112 from July to October, bringing the total number of reported cases to 38,114 from 1984 to 2016.

More than half of the affected individuals in 2016 belong to the 25 to 34 (19,578) age group while 28 percent (10,279) were aged 15 to 24. —Rie Takumi/KG, GMA News