By Ma. Mikaela Alonso and Melvirose Apolinar/UM Interns
THE NUMBER of people living with HIV (PLHIV) and teenage moms continue to rise despite four decades of awareness campaign and education.
What’s more concerning is that HIV-positive individuals are getting younger, with the latest data showing the highest number of PLHIVs within the age ranges between 15 and 24 years old.
The youngest case was a seven-year-old from Cotabato.
Michael Jesus Mahinay, executive director of the Alliance Against AIDS in Mindanao (Alagad Mindanao), said the youth from that age bracket are highly vulnerable because they are sexually active and economically productive yet also misinformed.
However, for the upcoming 40th International AIDS Candlelight Memorial and Mobilization on May 21, Mahinay asked Davaoeños to “spread love and solidarity to build stronger communities” and address discrimination and stigma toward people living with HIV.
“Swak gihapon ug tama ang kampanya nga we have to spread love and solidarity tungod kay ang mga PLHIV gina discriminate gihapon, naa gihapon tong stigma. So, pakusgan ang information (the campaign’s theme to spread love and solidarity is still relevant because the PLHIVs continue to face discrimination and stigma. So, we need to strengthen awareness),” he said.
Mahinay added that distributing free condoms to prevent HIV/AIDS would never be enough without proper education.
In line with the emphasis on proper family planning and sex education,
Herminigilda Escalante, Family Planning Organization of the Philippines (FPOP) chapter program manager, said the misconception that withdrawal is the most effective way to prevent pregnancy is still prevalent among the youth.
She said the average age of teenage pregnancy before was 17, but now it’s getting younger.
“Mas vulnerable ang mga bata karon na mabuntis tungod bata pa kaayo gidugo. Kasagaran mga bata karon na mabuntis nga mga teen kay pagtuo nila withdrawal is family planning method, sad to know (the youth now are more vulnerable because they have their menstruation early and they believe that withdrawal is a family planning method),” she added.
Escalante said it might be practical to focus on values formation through the church since 90% of Filipinos are part of the Christian community, but most of the youth chose to be agnostic.
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