DOH to buy up to PHP100-M worth of condoms to address HIV problem

MANILA — In line with its campaign to avert increasing human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) cases in the country, the Department of Health (DOH) is scheduled to procure PHP50 to 100 million worth of condoms next year.

DOH Undersecretary Gerardo Bayugo announced this during Tuesday’s press briefing in Malacanang where he said PHP1 billion has been allotted by the DOH to address the problem of HIV and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) in 2017.

“For the condoms, I think PHP50 million to 100 million worth of condoms is scheduled for procurement next year,” Bayugo said.

At present, Bayugo said the DOH has 10 million condoms ready for distribution in the pilot areas, particularly in the high-risk areas in Metro Manila, Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon) and Central Luzon regions.

He said DOH Secretary Paulyn Jean Ubial is proposing the distribution of condoms in schools due to current statistics in which HIV is increasing among the youth aged 15 to 24 years old.

“Two of the three infection that is happening is among 15 to 24 years old and we need some actions on this,” Bayugo said.

Bayugo said there is low condom use rate, citing a lot of varying reason for not using condom such as lack of knowledge about the disease, lack of access to condom and some legal hurdles since 15 to 17 year old youngsters need parental consent.

“But the Secretary is convinced that this will help a lot in averting and even reversing the increasing trend of HIV in the country,” Bayugo said.

“Let us equip the youth with the correct and consistent information against HIV and AIDS,” he added.

Bayugo said the distribution of condoms in schools will also address the high number of teenage pregnancy.

“The number of teenage pregnancy has doubled in the last 10 years. Teenage pregnancy is there, is becoming a big problem and pre-marital sex is happening and because of this, a lot of teenagers are getting HIV-AIDS,” he said.

As to the Catholic church opposition, Bayugo explained the DOH is doing the program not to control the population but to promote awareness about the danger of HIV and AIDS.

“We are very much willing to seek their (church) assistance and help in promoting awareness about the morality of our children, the proper way that children needs to behave sexually and condoms are just there as stocks guards,” Bayugo said.

The DOH official informed the Palace media that January 1984 to October 2016, a total of 38,114 cases of HIV were reported in the country.

“In 2016, roughly 26 new HIV infections every day are being reported or a total of 7,756 HIV cases alone for 2016,” he said.

“Compare this to 2008 where we have only one case a day or one infection per day being reported. Most were reported from January 2011 onward or about 32,000 cases were reported from January 2011 up to October 2016,” he added.

Based on the current information, Bayugo said at least 1,912 Filipinos have died because of AIDS.

“The predominant mode of transmission from 1984 to 2007 was unprotected heterosexual, meaning boy and girl. After 2009, male to male unprotected sex became the predominant mode of transmission,” he said.

Bayugo said the DOH, in coordination with the Department of Education (DepEd), is hoping to start the distribution of condoms in schools beginning next year. Jelly Musico/