During the ASEAN SAP we covered in the Technological Institute of The Philippines, we got to hear out the issues and solutions from 10 different teams coming from universities and colleges all around the Philippines. While most of the competing teams discussed environmental issues and economic concerns, but team Print X from Technological Institute of The Philippines – Quezon City stood out to me with their problem statement which is HIV in ASEAN countries.
Although the Philippines is at the lower end of HIV prevalence rates according to the statistics that team Print X presented, this only accounts for the diagnosed cases. The team also highlighted the lack of programs that could educate Filipinos on how to find out if they have HIV, the treatments, and the clinics that carry out services for HIV victims.
One of the supporting factors in the spread of HIV according to team Print X is the hook-up culture that online dating has amplified. For one, Filipinos are very active in social media. It’s almost as if it is a portal to escape from the grueling reality we face in our daily routine, so of course, the exposure to dating apps and sites is high. Filipinos are getting drawn more than ever to casual dating because currently, no one has the time to actually foster a relationship and balance establishing a career.
From the anecdotal evidence that I have gathered, despite growing up in the social circle of an upper-middle-class background. The programs educating us in college about safe sex, and STD prevention, no amount of information can dictate the personal choices of an individual. Not to mention, most of these coital encounters are influenced by alcohol inebriation, among other things.
What I found lacking from the programs provided by educational institutions is information on how to treat or alleviate the progression of these diseases, where are the clinics and foundations that can provide support for people who suspect that they may be infected?
Additionally, though casual sex is prevalent in the country; Filipinos are less likely to confide to peers and other people for help because it’s still a taboo subject in our society. I hope team Print X, will continue their efforts with their initiative so that we can eliminate HIV in the future!