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Unprotected anal sex drives HIV infection rate

in PHILIPPINES, 21/05/2013

Unprotected. Anal. Sex. That is what is driving the rate of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection in the Philippines. It is not “gay sex” that is driving the HIV epidemic because anal sex is not synonymous to gay sex. To use the term gay sex as a euphemism, substitute or synonym implies that only gay men have anal sex and by correlation, only gay men are vulnerable to being infected by HIV. Both are not true. Let’s break this down into smaller parts.

According to the Journal of the International AIDS Society, the Philippines has the lowest condom use in South East Asia, at 20-30% among high-risk groups. The study goes on to say that a 2003 national survey showed that 63 percent of male respondents said they had never used a condom and that condom use in extramarital partners was rare.

Average age of sexual debut is 15, but even before that we are overly exposed to the ubiquity of sexual innuendo -- from the green jokes and all sorts of insinuations in everyday conversation, the billboards along EDSA, the motels for every budget and vehicle type that are close to rivaling a major department store chain in their coverage.

It is ironic that we have such an aversion to using condoms. But it is not surprising that the Philippines has the highest teen pregnancy rate in the region and is among one of the seven countries in the world where HIV infection continues to rise. (Other countries have already been able to manage their epidemic; some have even been able to drive down the rate of infection.)

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