/ 3 December 2022

SENATOR Sherwin Gatchalian stressed the need to further strengthen the government’s comprehensive sexuality education because of the waning awareness among the Filipino youth of the human immunodeficiency virus and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome.

The Young Adult Fertility and Sexuality Study of the University of the Philippines Population Institute in 2021 showed that HIV and AIDS awareness plunged to 76
percent, the lowest since 1994.

From 95 percent in 1994, the percentage of Filipinos aged 15-24 who have heard of HIV and AIDS dropped by 19 percentage points to 76 percent in 2021.

The study also revealed the persistence of myths and misconceptions on HIV and AIDS among the Filipino youth.

For instance, more than half or 52 percent incorrectly believed that a person could get HIV by sharing food with someone who is infected and about two in five or 40 percent did not believe that a healthy-looking person can have HIV.

Gatchalian said these results show the urgency of strengthening sexuality education. The Philippines has the fastest growing HIV epidemic in the Asia Pacific region.

Between 2010 and 2020, HIV incidence in the country increased by 237%, according to the Department of Health. AIDS-related deaths, on the other hand, went up by 315 percent from 200 in 2010 to 820 in 2020.

Earlier this year, Gatchalian filed Proposed Senate Resolution No. 13, which seeks a Senate inquiry on the rise of HIV infections and teenage pregnancies. The inquiry will review the current policy on comprehensive sexuality education to assess the comprehensiveness of its scope and the effectiveness of its implementation.

“Kung hindi natin mapapaigting ang kaalaman ng ating mga kabataan sa HIV at AIDS, hindi natin mapipigilan ang pagtaas ng mga bagong kaso sa ating bansa. Kaya naman lalo nating kailangang patatagin ang sexuality education upang matulungan ang ating mga kabataan na magkaroon ng sapat na kaalaman at proteksyon,” the chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education said.