UP PROF: PH CULTURE USES HIV/AIDS ISSUE TO CONTROL PEOPLE
PHOTO CREDITS :THE INDEPENDENT
MANILA -- The prevalence of the Human Immuno Virus/Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS) in the country can be attributed to the Filipino culture, which uses "pananakot" or scare tactic to solicit obedience or to control people, a University of the Philippines (UP) professor in Diliman, Quezon City said on Thursday.
"Fear does nothing to prevent HIV, maybe because people don't want to accept that in the passion of sex, love and lust, people will forget all the precautions and the realities of sex workers and all. The real solution to this problem is to talk about it, sweeping it under the rug," Professor and medical anthropologist Mike Tan said in an interview with the Philippine News Agency (PNA).
Tan, a speaker at the launch of UP's Office for Initiatives in Culture and the Arts HIV/AIDS colloqium, said such culture also contributes to the increase in the number of teenage pregnancy cases.
"You know the most liberal countries, talking about reproductive health and things like this have lowest pregnancy rates. This is more than a biological issue, this is a social issue. There are emotions and feelings which are neglected in clinical discourses on HIV/AIDS, they must be openly discussed," he said.
Based on the figures from the Department of Health (DOH), a total of 5,576 HIV cases has been recorded from December 2012 until August 2018.
According to the latest HIV/AIDS data registry, 941 cases due to transactional or paid sex were recorded for the first eight months of 2018, 128 of which are recorded in August alone.
DOH said only three of the 128 cases are females, who admitted having received money for sex.
Meanwhile, 62 males admitted that they got the virus after paid sex. They are aged 18 to 60 years old.
During his speech, Tan said myths continue to affect the public's understanding and acceptance of HIV and AIDS patients.
Citing the emergence of female sex workers when American naval bases started operation in the country, Tan said one of the earliest HIV/AIDS myths depict that women are dirty and they are solely responsible for the spread of the virus.
Tan added the public also thinks that having HIV/AIDS is the end of a person's life.
"While it can make you weak to a certain extent, it cannot stop you from being productive and pursuing your dreams. I know of a student who is HIV positive but continues to study law to become a lawyer, I know another one from another country who is a doctor," he said.
Herlyn Alegre, one of the speakers from Waseda Univerity in Japan, showed the use of theater in engaging the youth in learning important facts about HIV/AIDS.
Alegre gathered young people in Cavite and taught them the realities HIV/AIDS patients face from the day they contracted it up to their treatment and fight to live a normal life.
"Through this study, they were able to experience shared inner perception, thinking that HIV/AIDS is our issue, cultivating smooth interpersonal relationship, family solidarity and religiosity," she said.
Alegre added the theater images recreated the discussion on HIV/AIDS as a social issue - reinforcing the social, cultural and political institutions governing personal relationships to normalize the representation of life with HIV/AIDS.
The colloquium is a two-day event, which includes presentations of research studies, short films and round table discussions with artists sharing their HIV/AIDS themed artworks. (PNA)