A Prophylaxis That Is HIV/AIDS Education.(Opinion &Amp; Editorial)

Manila Bulletin, November 9, 2002 | Go to article overview

A Prophylaxis That Is HIV/AIDS Education.(Opinion &Amp; Editorial)


THE need for a comprehensive HIV/AIDS education. The worldwide spread of the HIV virus and AIDS infection creates a challenging educational issue for schools and universities. AIDS is both a local public health issue and an international concern. In the United States as in most western countries, the nature of HIV and AIDS infection patterns varies widely among communities. Attitudes about sexuality education, HIV/AIDS education, cultural norms and personal lifestyles likewise vary significantly.

Statistics indicate the magnitude of this global health problem, emerging as the plague of modern times. As of 2001, there are an estimated forty million (40M) adults and children living with HIV/AIDS with six million one hundred thousand (6.1M) from South and Southeast Asia (which includes the Philippines), the second highest in regional incidence (the highest being in Sub-Saharah Africa). Newly HIVinfected adults and children in 2001 totaled five million (5M) and South and Southeast Asia have contributed eight hundred thousand (800,000). The estimated adult and child deaths due to HIV/AIDS was set at three million (3M).

HIV/AIDS has doubtlessly come into port in the Philippines. To date the situation in the country is as follows:

* There are one thousand five hundred three (1,503) cases of HIV reported for the period, January 1984-May 2001. Of this, one thousand (1,000) are asymptomatic, showing no signs or symptoms of the infection.

* There are more cases of HIV positive reported for males (919) than for females (584).

* The age ranges 20-29 and 30-39 appear to be the most vulnerable ages for females and males, respectively.

* There seems to be a slowing down of cases reported at age 40 years and above for both sexes.

* HIV positive cases are reported at ages 10 and below, with 11 cases for both sexes.

* Generally, there is a preponderance of HIV positives during the productive years 20-49 years of age.

* There are five hundred three (503) AIDS cases

* Deaths from AIDS numbered 223 over the 18year span from 1984-2001. It cannot be overemphasized from these salient data that preventive education programs should reach everyone - especially young people, among whom almost half of all new HIV infections occur.

The starting point. Various "gatekeepers" such as policymakers, religious leaders and their organizations, parents' and teachers' associations normally determine whether it should be taught and what kind of HIV/AIDS education and training should be given in schools. Although considerable differences may be observed on some aspects of HIV/AIDS education that are controversial and unacceptable, a consensus among them on certain issues is most likely. For example, that HIV/AIDS prevention education must be provided at all levels of the education system, that preservice training should be given to teachers, that there should be educational equality between males and females, that students need protection from sexual abuse and should learn to refuse drugs. This consensus can be the starting point and may be extended to HIV/AIDS specific topics and such premises that adolescents can learn how to make sound decisions, including avoiding risk behavior, and that educational institutions and our society must assume a dominant position in this undertaking.

The Philippine government through Congress has concretized its response to HIV/AIDS through the passage of Republic Act 8504 also known as the Philippine AIDS Prevention and Control Act of 1998. It is an act promulgating policies and prescribing measures for the prevention and control of HIV/AIDS in the Philippines, instituting a nationwide HIV/AIDS information and education program, establishing a comprehensive HIV/AIDS monitoring system, and strengthening the Philippine National AIDS Council (PNAC). Section 13 aptly specified as HIV/AIDS Education in Schools states:

"DECS, CHED and TESDA shall develop a school-based HIV/AIDS education and information program which shall include the HIV/AIDS education and information prototype, add-on content, and the development and provision of multi-media information and instructional materials to schools under their respective jurisdictions. …

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