TACLOBAN CITY -The Commission on Population (POPCOM) celebrates Valentine’s Day with Heart to H.E.A.R.T campaign on February 14, 2017 to create awareness on the increasing number of HIV/AIDS victims and teenage pregnancy in the country. The campaign aims to talk about the H.E.A.R.T. issues of adolescents and teens such as:
H – HIV/AIDS;
E- Early Sexual Encounter;
A – Adolescent Sexuality;
R – Reproductive Health; and
T – Teenage Pregnancy.
The Department of Health reported in December 2016 through the HIV and AIDS Registry of the Philippines (HARP) that there were 750 new HIV antibody sero-positive individuals. Most (96%) of the cases were male. More than half belong to the 25-34 year age group while 29% were youth aged 15-24 years. In 2016, the DOH recorded 9,264 cases of HIV/AIDS, including 1,969 deaths. On February 3 this year, before we hit the week of Heart’s Day celebration, a study of the National Institute of Health (NIH) at the University of the Philippines-Manila revealed that more aggressive Thai strain of HIV was seen among infected Filipinos and this could be one of the reasons for the continuous increase in new infections. On the other hand, the most recent Young Adult Fertility and Sexuality Study 4 (YAFS 4) Further Studies showed that in 2013, 13.7% of 15-19-year-old-females have begun childbearing. This is more than half of increase from 2002 (6.2 percent).
Also, according to YAFS 4 Further Studies, the average age of first sexual encounter in the country is 17 years old for both male and female. Most of these encounters happened at home when parents are away. Some of the YAFS 4 papers cite the strong relationship of Internet in early sex among youth. In Eastern Visayas, one critical emerging issue is the increasing birth among adolescents. Based on Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) data, teenage mothers are getting younger aside from the fact that young mothers are increasing: year 2011 – number of births by teenage pregnancy is 8,425; year 2012 - 8,707; year 2013 - 8,668; and year 2014 - 9,155. YAFS4 revealed that 9.7 percent of females aged 15-19 are already mothers; 2.1 percent of females aged 15-19 were pregnant with their first child at the time of the survey interview; 11.8 percent of females aged 15-19 have begun childbearing. The study also revealed that the proportion of women who have begun childbearing increase with age from 2.0 percent in those aged 16 and to 31.8 percent among those aged 19. (CJ/MEL CASPE)