UPV, AGENCIES CLARIFY CONDOM STATION PROJECT
HUMAN immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection in the Philippines is on the rise and Western Visayas is among the biggest regions with a big number of HIV cases.
As of December 2018, Western Visayas has the fifth highest number of HIV cases nationwide.
Twenty eight percent (28%) of the total HIV cases in the region belongs to the 15-24 age group. Forty-five people in the young population have died because of HIV/AIDS, a cumulative record since 1986 given by the Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit.
Moreover, the Integrated HIV Behavioral and Serologic Surveillance (IHBSS)conducted by the Epidemiology Bureau of the Department of Health last 2015 showed that median age of first sex is at 16 years old while first condom use is at 18 years old.
Condom use is only at 29% due to poor access to STI commodities. Poor access to STI commodities such as condoms is a result of the stigma associated with it.
In order to increase access to condoms and lubricants which are essential in preventing the spread of sexually transmitted infections, the concept of condom stations came into fruition. These Condom Stations provide a safe venue for adolescents to have access to STI commodities after being given thorough information and preventive measures against STIs especially HIV/AIDS.
This is a joint initiative of the Department of Health-Center for Health Development Western Visayas, the Commission of Higher Education VI, Family Planning Organization of the Philippines, Team Dugong Bughaw, and other regional partners.
Condom stations are also in response to Republic Act 11166 (Philippine HIV and AIDS Policy Act) which repealed the 21-year-old RA 8504. The new law calls for an improved partnership with schools to be active partners as sources of HIV information.
The DOH, CHED Western Visayas, and Team Dugong Bughaw launched three pilot condom stations in three Higher Education Institutions: University of the Philippines Visayas Iloilo, University of the Philippines Visayas Miagao, and West Visayas State University in November 2018 simultaneous with the HIV Awareness Month.
- The purpose of the condom stations is to improve the mindset of the young population in the use of condoms to prevent the spread of HIV. This includes proper education and correct information.
- The launching included a program involving educational talks about HIV awareness and condom use.
- Ten boxes of condoms were used for all the three condom station launchings, with only two boxes distributed during the launching of University of the Philippines Visayas Iloilo.
- There was no mass distribution of condoms, as we advocate for education first before provision. Students who received condoms were first educated on HIV awareness.
- The November events were only to launch the initiative of the condom stations. Concrete implementation of this project will include guidelines on education and giving out condoms.Therefore, no more condoms were carelesslygiven out after the launching. (LON VIZ)