UP students give out condoms at church on Valentine’s Day
BAGUIO CITY — Student activists celebrated Valentine’s Day by handing out condoms in front of the Baguio Cathedral on Sunday (Feb. 14).
The Alternatibong Katipunan ng mga Mag-aaral ng Unibersidad ng Pilipinas (AKMA-University of the Philippines Baguio) gave out 1,142 boxes of contraceptives to people, including church goers, as part of a reproductive health campaign, and to dramatize their demand for an end to discrimination against people infected with the Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV) and full blown AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome), said Daryl Mutya, the group’s chairperson.
Mutay said people were receptive, and the boxes disappeared in minutes, despite their proximity to the church.
UP Baguio student council chair Yves Medina said: “We are the youth and HIV/AIDS is our issue. The increase in HIV cases is very alarming and… the responsibility rests upon us to educate more people through education drives and to reach out in HIV/AIDS seminars especially in barangays.”
In 2015, the Department of Health recorded 7,829 HIV cases in the country, 503 of which developed into AIDS.
Hospitals in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) treated 65 HIV cases, representing 1 percent of the country’s total in 2015.
Baguio City, an HIV-AIDS treatment hub in Northern Luzon, had 47 recorded cases last year.
“Nasa stage palang tayo na we are mapping where [the infected] are. We are not yet offering actual intervention. And that’s the problem … we all know that HIV has been there decades ago,” said Rafaela David, chair of Akbayan Youth, who joined the gathering.
The HIV leads to full-blown AIDS, a disease that attacks and weakens the body’s immune system, ultimately leading to death. Nowadays, there are medicines available to control the effects of the HIV, enabling the afflicted to slow down and survive the effects of the virus.
Doctors recognize condoms as among the most effective tools to prevent the spread of HIV, which is usually transmitted through sex and sharing of needles. SFM
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