Telling parents about the status of their HIV-positive children is a challenge because most prefer to hide that information.
Oscar Obenza Jr., Olympus Society of Davao head, told TIMES on Tuesday that this is now the problem they’re facing after the government allowed minors age 15 to 17 years old to undergo HIV testing even without parental consent.
Olympus Society of Davao Community Center provides free HIV tests to volunteers. The results are strictly confidential.
The new law also allows those younger than 15, pregnant, or engaged in high-risk behavior to undergo HIV testing and counseling with the assistance of a licensed social or health worker.
“It’s hard in a sense that children are not comfortable (to tell their parents) because in the first place considering their behavior as teenager, they often share things with their parents,” Obenza said.
“The most that we can do is convince the child that there’s an involved social worker to guide them,” he continued.
Also, according to Obenza, this kind of thing is not commonly discussed openly at home since the HIV-positive children feel uncomfortable in doing so.
He said teens are afraid about how their parents will respond upon knowing their high-risk behaviors at a very young age. Their decision-making is also among the factors why they tend to engage in such activities, “and they forget sometimes to think about what are the consequences.”
Obenza said the youngest individual diagnosed with HIV in Davao City is 14 years old. Last March, the Davao City Reproductive Health and Wellness Center recorded one death from HIV in the city.