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MANILA, Philippines – Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, whose extended lectures on constitutional and international law have on occasion filled the Senate halls, is tackling a sensitive, different but nonetheless vital issue touching on public welfare: the alarming rise in sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs) among the young, and the role of unhygienic sex practices (read: oral sex) in this and in cancers.
In Senate Resolution No. 758, the feisty senator, who recently took on another topic—banning softdrinks in schools to stem the tide of teen diabetes---that deviated from her usual plate of issues, seeks an inquiry on the increasing prevalence of communicable and non-communicable diseases contracted through oral sex. She thinks that far from tiptoeing around the sensitive issue, leaders should face the challenge to educate young people of STD and cancer perils, specifically of the risks from oral sex.
“To prevent the spread of non-communicable diseases and sexually transmitted infections through oral sex, it is imperative for the State to coordinate with health and dental associations in order to campaign against such dreaded diseases,” Santiago explained in her resolution.
She added that “the State should also create measures that will develop awareness among its constituents and strengthen the role of health centers in providing information and basic medical aid with regard to oral health care.’’
Santiago cited reports by the Philippine Medical Association and Philippine Dental Association that oral sex with a partner with genital warts can increase the risk of cancer---even more than smoking and drinking can--- and that people who have had more than five oral sex partners were nine times more likely to have cancer of the tonsils, tongue and throat.
“The PMA warned that since many teenagers today are more sexually adventurous, they are vulnerable to oral cancers; the PMA, citing a study by the University of the Philippines Population Institute, claimed that at least 54.23 million Filipinos aged 15 to 24 were already sexually active, and of this number, only 20 percent use protection such as condoms,” Santiago explained.
The senator also cited PMA reports on studies showing that the human papilloma virus (HPV), mainly responsible for cervical cancer among women, can also cause oral cancer in both men and women who engage in unprotected oral sex.
“It was also reported that aside from HPV, sexually transmitted infections – such as herpes, gonorrhoea, Chlamydia –contracted through oral sex can also lead to cancers of the mouth,” Santiago said.
In a related study, the PDA showed a 15-percent prevalence of oral lesions among residents, where at least 1.5 percent were in the pre-cancer and oral cancer stage.
Santiago urged the Senate to direct the proper committee to immediately conduct an inquiry, in aid of legislation, on the need to prevent the increasing prevalence of STD contracted through oral sex.