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Filipino students can start getting free condoms in schools starting next year

In an effort to curb down the continuous rise of HIV/AIDS cases among youth in the country, the Department of Health (DOH) will start distributing free condoms in schools starting next year.

In a report by The PhilStar, DOH said that this move is part of its “business unusual” strategy in fighting the spread of HIV/AIDS among the younger population.
Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial said the HIV/AIDS trend in the country should be reversed and the DOH is looking to distribute condoms not only in health facilities, but even in non-traditional outlets like school clinics.

Ubial said the DOH would work with the Department of Education (DepEd) to implement the program on a pilot-test basis.

“The distribution of condoms will start as soon as we have threshed out certain matters with the DepEd,” Ubial said in an interview.

“But before the distribution, there will be counseling so we can prepare the schools, teachers and the students,” Ubial added.

The DOH’s strategy to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS may become controversial, but Ubial said the government must adopt bolder moves, considering that the profile of HIV/AIDS patients in the country is getting younger.

“The youngest recorded HIV patient in the country is 11 years old,” Ubial said, citing results of recent studies showing that Filipinos are engaging in sex more and at a very young age.

According to Ubial, the DOH is not encouraging the youth to use condom and only distributing it for their protection.

“Distribution of condom is not a bad habit. We are not encouraging the youth to use. It is for safekeeping and should be used only during emergency and for their protection,” Ubial stressed.
Ubial also reported that the DOH is looking into the possibility of giving free pre-exposure prophylaxis drugs to high risk or groups of people vulnerable to the potentially deadly infection.

“We will look into it, but we have to consider logistics before adopting the strategy,” she said.

Aside from condom and pre-exposure drugs, Ubial said the DOH is willing to provide self-testing kit to high-risk groups if ever it becomes available in the country.

“It is not yet available in the Philippines. We hope that it will be registered with the FDA and soon be available to our countrymen,” she said.

However, Ubial said the self-testing kits will be available only in health facilities and partner agencies, but not in drug stores.

“The test kits will not be available in the drug store because we will need counseling before one gets tested so we could avoid possible increase in depression or suicide because they might not know what to do if they find themselves positive,” Ubial said.
World AIDS Day is commemorated on Dec. 1.

The National Youth Commission (NYC) and the United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS agreed with the DOH on the need to adopt bolder strategies to address the HIV epidemic among Filipino youth.

Filipino students can start getting free condoms in schools starting next year Filipino students can start getting free condoms in schools starting next year Reviewed by Raelyn Luchansky on 1:19:00 PM Rating: 5

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