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Why is There Low Contraception Use in the Philippines?

Why is There Low Contraception Use in the Philippines?

HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) cases and unintended teenage pregnancies are on the rise in the Philippines. What is the cause of these alarming statistics? The answer is a complex one, but at the heart of it may be lax condom wearing in the Philippines.

Contraception Use in the Philippines

Lax condom wearing in the Philippines has resulted in two healthcare issues.

  1. A surge of unintended or unwanted pregnancies, especially among the youth.
  2. Alarming rise in cases of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) in recent years.

These two issues are of great concern to all the individuals involved. What’s more, they may have a downward pull on the country’s development, especially given the country’s large population and a shortage of HIV treatment facilities.

The Condom Conundrum

Condom use and condom wearing in the Philippines are seen as social taboos in the country. The nation is led by conservatives in both public and private institutions.

Catholic Church

The Catholic Church, for example, is influential when it comes to sexual values in the Philippines with nearly 80% of Filipinos identifying as Catholic. This institution is known for its hardline stance against the use of contraceptives and condom wearing in the Philippines. It advocates against premarital sex and same-sex relations while preaching abstinence instead.

Government

The Philippine national government, while a secular one on paper, is also vocal about preventing sexual activity among teenagers and young adults. The policies it has enacted include banning condom distribution in schools. In addition, there is a clear lack of implementation of sex education, which includes condom wearing in the Philippines. Current policies focus more on family planning, responsible procreation, and abstinence as well.

The combined efforts of the Church and government to curb sexual activities, however, have failed to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. In January 2019, the Department of Health reported 1,200 new cases of HIV. This is a continuation of an alarming surge of HIV cases in recent years. In 2017 alone, more than 11,000 new cases of HIV were recorded. It is a massive jump from the 9,000 cases recorded in 2016.

What can be the reason for such alarming figures?

Why Condoms Aren’t Used More Often

In a survey conducted by the health management organization (HMO) PhilCare, they learned that only 1 in 10 sexually active Filipinos use condoms. This makes an alarming majority of Filipinos susceptible to STDs and pregnancies.

Around the world, it has been found that condom use prevents or lessens these health issues. This is not the case, however, in the Philippines.

According to the social advocate group Human Rights Watch, condom wearing in the Philippines is lax among Filipinos for the following reasons:

Lack of education and information

Condom information is scant in developing countries. Young people might be aware of condoms, but only a few are knowledgeable enough to use them.

Poverty

Due to severe economic inequality in the Philippines, many Filipinos simply cannot afford contraceptives. As a result, many teenage girls become mothers. HIV infections also become common in homosexual relationships in poorer communities.

Access

Many Filipinos have no access to contraceptives, especially in rural areas. According to previous research, many begin their first sexual experiences with little to no protection at all. This might explain why teenage pregnancy rates are higher in the provinces compared to urban centers.

Cultural and Social Stigma

There is a stigma regarding both contraceptives and homosexual relationships in the Philippines. Even though condoms are common in convenience stores, young people opt not to buy them due to this stigma. Condom wearing in the Philippines is also frowned upon or banned outright in conservative communities.

Solutions to the Condom Conundrum

The following are a few key solutions in addressing the problems resulting from lax condom wearing in the Philippines. Many of these efforts are already being implemented in the country. But due to government and religious policy, they are hard-pressed to gain a foothold.

Increased public awareness

Helping people become more aware of the dangers of unprotected sex is a great start. Advocating for condom and contraceptive use could lessen HIV and unintended pregnancy cases among young people. These government advocacy campaigns also serve as the medium for the distribution of condoms to the community.

Condom distribution

Distributing condoms in schools is undeniably effective. It is also one of the UNAID’s proposed thrusts in order to teach safe and responsible sex among younger people.

Sex and Sexuality Education

Implementing sex education in schools allows for a greater understanding of basic biology and sex. Knowing more about the risks of unprotected sex also deters more young people from doing it irresponsibly.

Removing Social Stigma

Removing the social stigma of condom wearing in the Philippines and in the Filipino culture is a complex solution. However, the benefits of changing a personal conservative worldview to a more progressive one would help immensely.

Key Takeaways

Filipinos are, simply put, lax when it comes to practicing safe sex. Many are misinformed or have no access to contraceptives. Better sex education and a comprehensive contraceptive program are needed in order to address these growing problems. Programs dedicated to responsible and safe sex practices for Filipinos are also beneficial. Distribution of condoms and other contraceptives to low-income areas can also be considered.

Learn more about Sexual Wellness here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Pasha-Robinson, L. “Philippines HIV cases soar 3,147% in 10 years as Duterte says condoms ‘not satisfying’.” The Independent. Web. 20 Feb 2018. Retrieved from: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/philippines-hiv-cases-rise-duterte-condoms-unsafe-sex-increase-a8219886.html, Accessed June 30, 2020

Cabato, R. “LIST: Where to get free HIV treatment in the Philippines.” CNN Philippines. Web. 1 Dec 2017. Retrieved from: http://nine.cnnphilippines.com/incoming/2017/12/01/HIV-treatment-hubs-clinics-Philippines.html, Accessed June 30, 2020

Almendral, A. “As H.I.V. Soars in the Philippines, Conservatives Kill School Condom Plan.” New York Times. Web. 28 Feb 2017. Retrieved from: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/28/world/asia/as-hiv-soars-in-philippines-conservatives-kill-school-condom-plan.html, Accessed June 30, 2020

De Vera, A. “DOH reports 1,200 new cases of HIV in January.” Manila Bulletin. Web. 9 Mar 2019. Retrieved  from: https://news.mb.com.ph/2019/03/09/doh-reports-1200-new-cases-of-hiv-in-january/, Accessed June 30, 2020

Junio, L. “11K were diagnosed with HIV in 2017: DOH.” Philippine News Agency. Web. 14 Feb 2018. Retrieved from: https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1025075, Accessed June 30, 2020

“Many sexually active Pinoys don’t use condoms, survey says.” ABS-CBN. Web. 25 Sep 2019. Retrieved from: https://news.abs-cbn.com/spotlight/09/25/19/many-sexually-active-pinoys-dont-wear-condoms-survey-says, Accessed June 30, 2020

The global condom gap, https://www.hrw.org/reports/2004/philippines0504/5.htm, Accessed June 30, 2020

Philippines: Discrimination Against Workers with HIV, https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/02/09/philippines-discrimination-against-workers-hiv, Accessed June 30, 2020

Punongbayan, JC. “Teenage pregnancies: Untangling cause and effect.” Rappler. Web. 8 Feb 2014. Retrieved from: https://www.rappler.com/move-ph/ispeak/50002-teenage-pregnancies-cause-and-effect, Accessed June 30, 2020

Santos, T. “MSM, low condom use, gov’t policies fuel HIV/AIDS rise.” Inquirer.net. Web. 3 Dec 2017. Retrieved from: https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/949378/condom-use-msm-aids-hiv-rontgene-solante-manilamed-hospital-anal-sex-multiple-sex-partners, Accessed June 30, 2020

Balala, C. “DOH-5 to step up in condom use campaign vs HIV.” Philippine Information Agency. Web. 28 Dec 2018. Retrieved from: https://pia.gov.ph/news/articles/1016536, Accessed June 30, 2020

Condoms, https://www.unaids.org/en/resources/presscentre/featurestories/2016/october/20161002_condoms, Accessed June 30, 2020

 

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Written by Franz Vincent Legazpi on Jun 30, 2020
Medically reviewed by Mike Kenneth Doratan, M.D.
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