As we commemorated World AIDS Day last December 1, the disturbing truth that cases of the illness continue to rise over the past few months and years in the Philippines reminds us all that the fight against HIV-AIDS should not be all about criticisms on budget cuts and poor government support but also fostering personal responsibility and discipline amongst Filipinos.
Since 1984, our country has recorded a total of 7, 884 HIV/AIDS cases and almost 1,800 cases have already been reported in the first ten months of this year, exceeding the 1,591 cases reported for all of 2010, according to government data. Although any HIV-positive individual has a better chance of survival if given the right number of medications and support, our country remains to be one of only seven countries listed by UNAIDS (the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS) to have suffered rising infection rates in 2010.This is quite alarming especially that the Global Fund, the only external source of financial support of our country for its fight against the disease, runs out in November next year according to Maria Teresa Bagasao, country director of UNAIDS.
What is the reason why HIV/AIDS continues to spread like wild fire in our society? Can we accurately identify the root cause of this issue? Can we link it to government’s lack of financial assistance or the citizen’s lack of ethical platform?
Stop Blaming, Start Moving
HIV/AIDS has been existent to world’s consciousness ever since it was discovered on 1981. Throughout the years, various advancements and discoveries have made life easier for people who contracted the disease. In the Philippines, however, the cost of medicines and seemingly over-reliance of the government to the Global Fund for the financial assistance to fight HIV/AIDS have been the center of controversies. A physician in one of the treatment hubs said that the cost of the first-line generic drug in the commercial market is at least P9,000-up for a month’s supply while the second- and third-line drugs are even more expensive. The budget concerns have been verified but is it really the government’s sole responsibility to eradicate this disease? Don’t we, as citizens, also have a crucial part in this battle? The ravages that this diasease might bring to our society are unimaginable but we have to take our part to stop it. Either the government’s lame educational campaign or people’s sexual needs and urges cannot be qualified as a sensible excuse to blunder, practice unsafe sex, and point our fingers towards the government afterwards. Our country has other issues like malnutrition, corruption, unemployment, health care inadequacy, and deteriorating education which makes proper allocation of government funds seems to be a Herculean task. As responsible citizens, we have to take our part in information dissemination and through safe practice that can be done by either abstinence or involvement into a protected, monogamous sex.
Family Values and RH Bill
Use of drugs and practice of pre-marital sex will always remain as taboo if only health and sex education always start within every Filipino family. RH Bill will not be necessary if Filipino people will be just open in discussing sex as a vital part of one’s life. This is a vital step to fight the disease because HIV/AIDS is hitting hardest the ranks of young Filipinos, especially those between the age of 15 to 24, among whom the number of infection has risen tenfold from 2007 to 2010. Reportedly, sexual contact is the most common means of transmission. Therefore, abstinence and protected, monogamous sex will always remain as safe practice for all, regardless of sexual orientation. People do not need to push for RH Bill because at the end of the day, willingness to learn and discipline to practice safe sex will always start on a personal level. The government will not be able to force someone to abstain from or practice safe sex because it’s all a matter of choice and concrete moral values.
Sexual needs have always been a part of human nature but there will always be a clear demarcation line between safe, responsible sex and sex hastily done for pleasure alone. We have the power to choose what is right and control how we respond to our sexual urges. Consequently, the battle against HIV/AIDS in the Philippines is one that does not only involve our government but also its responsible citizens who are willing to make a better Philippines for the next generations to come.