In celebration of the World Aids Day 2016, the Department of Health encouraged anew the use of condoms amid the alarming rise in number of HIV and AIDS cases among youth in the country. The agency also called on the parents to educate children about safe sex to raise awareness about the disease.

DOH to give out condoms in schools

In line with its initiative to fight against HIV and AIDS, DOH is planning to distribute condoms in schools, in attempt to at least slow down the sharp rise in the number of youth inflicted with the viruses. Apart from condoms in schools, the agency is also considering to take heed of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) call to make HIV self-testing kits available to the public.

DOH secretary Paulyn Jean Ubial said the HIV self-test kits could be available to individuals in places where they can be adequately counseled, instead of over-the-counter. Free and confidential HIV testing is available at local health providers, local government units and non-government organizations partners.

Safe sex at home

The Health Department also urged parents to educate children about safe sex as the number of youths affected by either AIDS or HIV virus is fast-growing. Ubial noted the HIV self-test kits will not be readily available to public unless they undergo counseling. This is decided to prevent the possible suicide attempts among those tested positive for AIDS or HIV.

Treatment options are available to those who test positive for HIV such as the anti-retroviral treatments (ART). This is applied to individuals who need to lower the viral load of patients and improve their immune response. Life-long ART is available to those registered in HIV treatment hubs.

Alarming rise of HIV/AIDS cases

Citing a data, Ubial said that a total of 38,114 HIV cases were recorded from 1984 to October 2016, with 33,000, tallied from 2011 to 2016, undergoing treatment. Of the total, 18,000 are linked to care while 17,000 started using ART.

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DOH will allot a P1 billion budget for 2017 to provide ART to over 39,000 HIV patients. The funding will help the DOH to increase knowledge in HIV transmission, prevention and services among 15 to 24-year-olds to 90 percent; prevent new HIV infection among 15 to 24-year-olds; test and treat 90 percent of people living with HIV; and eliminate mother to child transmission of HIV.

What do you think of the Health Department’s initiatives to contribute in the worldwide battle against HIV and AIDS? Let us know in the comments section below.