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MANILA - “Chastity and fidelity” are the best solutions against the rise of HIV and AIDS in the country, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines said Sunday.
The Roman Catholic Church launched the campaign even as the Department of Health (DOH) reported that HIV/AIDS cases in the Philippines have increased by 92 percent in October compared to the same month last year.
Despite the rain, the CBCP launched a campaign called “Catholic AIDS Sunday” to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS, particularly among the youth.
“Sa amin ang best solution diyan is chastity and fidelity, yung walang irresponsible sexual behaviors and at the same time fidelity sa mga mag asawa, sa pamilya,” Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo told reporters after the launch on Sunday.
He emphasized that the use of condom is not part of the Church’s HIV/AIDS prevention and awareness campaign.
Pabillo said condom is not the key to solving the spread of the disease. On the contrary, he said, condom only promotes promiscuity and reinforces an attitude and behavior toward irresponsible sexual activity.
“Kapag may condom, parang hinahayaan mo yung irresponsible activity kasi may condom naman. It has been proven worldwide na sa mga bansa na mas laganap ang condom, mas laganap ang pagkalat ng ganitong sakit. Nakikita nila na ang talagang mahalaga ay yung fidelity at responsible sexual behavior” Pabillo pointed out.
Pabillo appealed to teenagers, especially ages 15 to 24 years old, to listen on the teachings of the Church, lamenting that cases of HIV/AIDS among teenagers are increasing.
“Kasi hindi [sila] nakikinig. [Pero] hindi ibig sabihin na kung hindi sila nakikinig ay pababayaan na natin. We remain true to what is the proper teaching,” he said.
Around 2,000 students from different colleges and universities formed a giant human AIDS red ribbon during the launching of “Catholic AIDS Sunday” at the University of Santo Thomas grounds in Manila.
Aside from the CBCP, the event was also launched by Catholic HIV and AIDS Network (PhilCHAN), Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP), and the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBCP).
Based on its latest Philippine HIV and AIDS registry report as of October 2011, the DOH has listed 200 new individuals who were infected with HIV, a 92-percent increase compared to the 104 cases during the same period in 2010.
The DOH said a 27-year-old male admitted that his HIV infection has progressed into full-blown AIDS; his case brings the AIDS cases to 72 within the January-September 2011 period.
The National Capital Region still has the highest number of HIV/AIDS cases, with 54 percent or 108 of individuals having either HIV or AIDS.
Out of the total figure, 194 males or 97 percent have the virus. This is due to the increasing number of unprotected sex with other males. Some 85 percent, or 183 individuals, contracted the virus due to sexual activity while some 17 individuals acquired HIV through needle sharing among injecting drug users.
Out of the 200 cases, 21 were overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), 19 were males and two were females who acquired the infection through sexual contact.
So far, no death was reported in October.
AIDS is the final stage of HIV infection, when the disease develops complications and causes severe damage to the body’s immune system.
From January to October 2011, the DOH recorded a total of 1,869 cases of HIV/AIDS; 1,797 were recorded to be asymptomatic or not showing signs of AIDS, while 72 were confirmed as AIDS.
To date, from 1984 to 2011, there have been a total of 7,884 HIV/AIDS cases in the Philippines.