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As HIV knowledge declines, a senator demands stronger sex education.

Following findings of low youth understanding of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), Senator Sherwin Gatchalian pushed for the need to expand comprehensive sexuality education on Friday (AIDS).

According to the University of the Philippines Population Institute’s (UPPI) 2021 Young Adult Fertility and Sexuality Study (YAFSS), 76 percent of young Filipinos aged 15 to 24 have heard about HIV and AIDS, down from 95 percent in 1994.

Given that the Philippines is one of the nations in the Asia Pacific Region with a rapidly increasing number of HIV diagnoses, Gatchalian believes the data support the need to strengthen sex education in the nation.

The study also revealed that two in five or 40% of Filipino youth did not believe that a healthy-looking person could have HIV and that more than half, or 52%, of Filipino youth, wrongly believed that a person might obtain HIV through sharing food with an infected person.

The Department of Health reports that from 2010 to 2020, the country’s HIV incidence climbed by 237 percent (DOH). On the other side, the number of AIDS-related deaths rose 315 percent, from 200 in 2010 to 820 in 2020.

Gatchalian introduced Senate Resolution No. 13 earlier this year, calling for an investigation into the surge in teenage pregnancies and HIV infections.

The investigation will examine the current policy and evaluate the extent of its application’s efficacy.

According to the DOH, there were 115,100 HIV-positive individuals in the nation in 2020, and young men who have sex with other men accounted for 90% of new infections.
The organization also issued a warning that if the pattern continued, there might be 330,000 new HIV cases nationwide.

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