No pilot distribution of condoms in QC schools, only HIV reference materials, says health dept

MANILA, -- A health department official on Monday assured that no pilot distribution of condoms has been done in any school in Quezon City.

"There was never a pilot on condom distribution, rather it was a pilot on a reference material on human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)," Department of Health (DOH) spokesperson, Dr. Eric Tayag, said in his Twitter account. He was commenting on Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista's move to ban the distribution of condoms in the city's schools.

Tayag noted that the reference materials merely contained facts about HIV and were distributed as part of efforts to provide age-appropriate interventions in schools.

Health Secretary Dr. Paulyn Ubial earlier acknowledged that the school system is not ready for the health department's plan to distribute condoms in school clinics in a bid to check the alarming rise in HIV cases among youths in the 15-24 age bracket.

"We are taking this one step at a time because this is one thing that the school system is not prepared for," she said, adding that her department is aware of the need to train teachers and counselors on how to discuss sex, sexuality and reproductive health in general with students. "We really have to win the cooperation of the teachers and school health professionals because we cannot do this alone in the DOH."

Ubial also clarified that they only intend to distribute condoms to those who are sexually active and those who admit to having an initial sexual encounter, because they are the ones at risk of acquiring sexually transmitted diseases. She maintained that the distribution of condoms will be coupled with proper counseling.

The health department last December floated the idea of distributing condoms in school clinics, following the release of data from the HIV/AIDS and ART Registry of the Philippines (HARP) showing that 758 new HIV cases were recorded as of last November, bringing the total to 38,872 since the virus was first detected in 1984. Some 96 percent of the cases were male and more than half belonged to the 25-34 age group, while 29 percent were in the 15-24 age group.

Mayor Bautista said Sunday that while the city government supports the national campaign on HIV/AIDS awareness, he will not allow condoms to be distributed in schools -- only in the city's public health facilities.

The QC Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit meanwhile said that no condom distribution was ever done in any public school in the city but acknowledged that they have developed reference materials on adolescent health and pilot tested them in four public schools, to be used by music, arts, physical education, and health (MAPEH) teachers. (PNA)

Source: Philippines News Agency

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