New DOH sec cites need for better info campaign vs HIV/AIDS

Posted at 01/28/10 6:06 PM

DOH Sec. Esperanza Cabral. Photo from www.op.gov.ph.

MANILA, Philippines - Health Secretary Esperanza Cabral on Thursday admitted that the government has fallen short in its information campaign against the spread of HIV/AIDS.

"Maraming information campaign na ginagawa ang pamahalaan, subalit sa aking palagay, may mga kulang sa ating ginawa para sa pagsasabi sa mga tao at pagbibigay ng serbisyo sa kanila tungkol sa pag-iwas at pag-iingat sa HIV/AIDS," Cabral said.

(The government has several information campaign, but I believe that we still lack in providing the people services for them to avoid HIV/AIDS.)

The Department of Health (DOH) said that it has recorded a total of 709 cases of HIV/AIDS in the Philippines in the first 10 months of 2009.

Cabral said the rising number of cases is very alarming and a bad sign of an impending "explosion" of HIV/AIDS cases in the Philippines.

He said the government, particularly the DOH, should seriously look into more effective ways on how to properly warn Filipinos, particularly the youth, against the sexually-transmitted disease (STD).

Need for RH bill, condoms

Last week, Cabral said that the DOH started tackling new ways on how to prevent the continuous spread of the disease in the country.

She added that there is a need for a clear policy "on the use of certain things, such as condoms, for the prevention of transmission of HIV/AIDS."

Cabral said this policy is laid out in the reproductive health bill pending before Congress.

She said the bill has certain provisions that go along with the DOH's campaign against the spread of the disease.

HIV (human immuno-deficiency virus) is a virus that damages the immune system.

It is transmitted from person to person through the exchange of or exposure to infected bodily fluids like semen, saliva, blood, vaginal secretions, or breast milk.

Not all cases are transmitted through sexual contact. HIV can also be passed on from mother to child, or through sharing needles used for drug use.

Catholic Church's opposition

Edu Razon, president of Pinoy Plus, which is also actively campaigning against AIDS, said the Catholic Church's active promotion against the use of condoms is affecting their campaign against the disease.

Razon said people against the use of condoms have been spreading misconceptions about contraceptives.

"They are saying that the use of condom encourages casual sex when actually, it is the best way to avoid being infected by sexually-transmitted diseases, including HIV," he said.

Razon said Filipinos should be advised about the fast-spreading disease.

He said that in the early 1980’s, only 3 to 5 cases were diagnosed in the country.

Based on his group’s monitoring efforts, he said at least 3 people are infected by the disease daily.

Razon said their group also supports the reproductive health bill, which has been aggressively opposed by the Church.

The Church had recently urged Filipinos not to vote for candidates who are against the bill. With reports from ANC and abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak.