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.
- A surge of unintended or unwanted pregnancies, especially among the youth.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.