OFWs need sex education

Published by rudy Date posted on April 15, 2011

MANILA, Philippines—Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) comprise one-fourth of the 6,326 total cases listed in the National HIV and AIDS Registry, according to Rep. Arnel Ty of the party-list group LPGMA.

Ty is pushing for a review of the 1998 AIDS Prevention and Control Law to find ways to reinforce the fight against the sexually transmitted disease. He is also appealing for increased public funding for preventive HIV/AIDS education.

In House Resolution 724, Ty cites the need for Congress to ascertain whether existing policies and measures in the 12-year-old law are sufficient to quell the HIV/AIDS epidemic and improve the conditions of OFWs and other Filipinos living with the disease.

“There is no question that HIV/AIDS is ravaging our OFWs,” Ty said, adding they are extremely susceptible to the disease owing to their “high-risk sexual behavior” when they are outside the country.

Ty said a total of 1,558 OFWs, with the median age of 36 years, have been found either HIV positive or with full-blown acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) since the country began passive surveillance of the disease in 1984.

He said 96 percent or 1,496 of the OFWs with HIV/AIDS acquired the disease through unprotected sexual contact.

Ty said 75 percent of all OFWs diagnosed with HIV/AIDS are males. Of the 36 OFWs reported HIV positive in January and February, 30 were males and six were females.

He said preventive education “remains the best defense against possible infection.” He urged the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration to invest aggressively in prevention drives.

There is no known cure or vaccine for HIV/AIDS, although treatments can slow the course of the disease, classified as a pandemic by the World Health Organization. –Philippine Daily Inquirer

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