Senator Win Gatchalian is urging the Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of Education (DepEd) to step up efforts on raising the youth’s awareness on the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
Gatchalian, Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, made this call following the release of the HIV/AIDS & ART Registry of the Philippines for January 2023, which revealed that 86 cases were recorded among children and adolescents or those aged 19 and below. Seventy-nine of these cases were among adolescents aged 10 to 19, while seven were less than 10 years old.
“Nakakaalarma at nakakalungkot isipin na kung sino pa ang dapat na binibigyan ng dobleng pag-aaruga dahil sa kanilang murang edad at kahinaan ay sila pa ang nakakaranas ng matinding pagdurusa. Ang nakababahalang balitang ito ay kinakailangan ng mas maigting na pakikipag-ugnayan ng DOH sa iba’t ibang ahensya ng gobyerno at mga lokal na pamahalaan para ikalat nang husto ang kaalaman tungkol sa sakit at kung paano maiwasan ito,” Gatchalian said.
The total number of new HIV cases for the month of January was 1,454. Of the 1,365 reported cases acquired through sexual contact, 998 or 70% were males who reported having sex with another male, 193 or 13% were males having sex with females, and 240 or 17% were males having sex with both males and females.
To highlight the urgency of increasing awareness on HIV, Gatchalian cited the findings of the University of the Philippines Population Institute’s (UPPI) 2021 Young Adult and Fertility Sexuality Survey (YAFSS) which revealed that youth awareness of HIV and acquired immuno-deficiency syndrome (AIDS) dropped to 78% in 2021. This is the lowest recorded since 1994, when the percentage of youth who were aware of HIV and AIDS was 95%. In 2013, the percentage of youth who were aware of HIV and AIDS dropped to 85%.
According to Gatchalian, he will pursue a Senate inquiry on HIV infections among youth, as well as adolescent pregnancies. Last year, Gatchalian filed Proposed Senate Resolution No.13 to review and assess the implementation of DepEd’s Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE).
“Nais nating tiyakin na sapat ang kaalaman ng ating mga kabataan pagdating sa HIV, lalo na’t maaaring magdulot ito ng pinsala sa kanilang kalusugan at kapakanan. Susuriin natin kung paano natuturuan ang ating mga kabataan upang pangalagaan ang kanilang mga kalusugan,” said Gatchalian.