By Leonel Abasola
MANILA– Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Friday pressed the need to strengthen the comprehensive sexuality education following reports of low youth awareness on human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).
Based on the 2021 Young Adult Fertility and Sexuality Study (YAFSS) of the University of the Philippines Population Institute (UPPI), shows that from 95 percent in 1994, the percentage of young Filipinos aged 15-24 who have heard of HIV and AIDS dropped by 19 percentage points to 76 percent.
According to Gatchalian, the results validate the need to beef up sex education in the country, considering that the Philippines is one of the countries in the Asia Pacific Region with a fast-growing number of HIV cases.
The study also showed that more than half or 52 percent of Filipino youth incorrectly believed that a person could get HIV by sharing food with someone who is infected and two in five or 40 percent did not believe that a healthy-looking person can have HIV.
HIV incidence in the country increased by 237 percent during the period from 2010 to 2020, according to the Department of Health (DOH). AIDS-related deaths, on the other hand, increased by 315 percent from 200 in 2010 to 820 in 2020.
Earlier this year, Gatchalian filed Senate Resolution No. 13, which seeks an inquiry on the rise of HIV infections and teenage pregnancies.
The inquiry will review the current policy and assess the comprehensiveness of its scope and the effectiveness of its implementation.
In 2020, there were 115,100 people living with HIV in the country, while 90 percent of new infections were recorded among young males who have sex with males, said the DOH.
The agency also warned that should the trend persist the number of HIV cases nationwide could reach 330,000. (PNA)