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DOH stops distribution of condoms in schools

A Filipino health worker shows condoms that are given for free to the public by the Department of Health in Manila, Philippines, on Thursday, Dec. 8, 2016. A human rights watchdog says the Philippines is facing one of the fastest growing epidemics of HIV in the Asia Pacific, fueled by government policies that restrict intervention, including access to condoms by men who have sex with men. (Photoby AARON FAVILA/AP)

The Department of Health (DOH) on Friday said that it would no longer pursue its plan to distribute condoms in schools despite the increase in the number of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) infections and transmissions among the youth.

In a press briefing on World AIDS Day, Health Undersecretary Gerardo Bayugo said they already shelved the program because the DOH and the Department of Education (DepEd) had failed to plot a common strategy in ensuring reproductive health.

“The strategy was proposed by former Secretary (Paulyn) Ubial. We had some lengthy discussions and meetings with DepEd to use schools as avenue for distribution of condoms considering there is a big chunk of this group affected by HIV,” Bayugo said.

Based on the latest HIV/AIDS registry in the country, a total of 1,962 new HIV cases, including 18 pregnant women, were reported in July to August this year.

In effect, an average of 31 cases were reported every day during these months.

Most of the cases were males (95 percent). More than half of the cases were from the 25-34 year age group while 31 percent were youth aged 15-24 years.

“We have to think of other ways so protective measures can be provided to the youth, especially those engaging in risky behavior,” Bayugo said.

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