Let’s Talk About (Safe) Sex

People know I’m sex-positive, sometimes to the extreme. I have no shame discussing the topic (except the names of people I have sex with), and I feel it’s one that we should normalize since it’s how we were created. People have no problems discussing other things. Why not discuss something pleasurable?

Another reason why we should normalize sex is to remove the stigma and taboo. And it’s this reason why there are so many misconceptions about it, which can lead to unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). And because we’re not talking about it, we don’t realize how bad the situation is.

So how bad is it?

According to a study by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), there has been an increase of 174% in HIV cases in the Philippines since 2010. This is alarming because the incidence of HIV cases around the world has slowed down.

In 2017, Dr. Louie R. Ocampo, the country director of UNAIDS Philippines, reported that there were an estimated 12,000 new cases, bringing the estimated number of people living with HIV to a whopping 61,000 to 76,000. What’s troubling is that there are 31 new HIV cases each day, with people aged 25-34 having the highest infection rate (52%), followed by people aged 15-24 (29%)!

It gets worse: for men who have sex with men, they use condoms for the first time at 18 years old, even if the median age of the first time they have sex is 16 years old and their first act featuring penetration happens at 17 years old. To top it off, only 37% know how HIV is transmitted and prevented.

So what’s happening? Why is it that the numbers are increasing here while it’s decreasing elsewhere in the world? According to Dr. Ocampo, it’s because of low testing rates, low treatment coverage (late initiation of treatment and decreased treatment adherence), fragmented health service and weak participation of local government units, lack of education, and low condom use.

We can still stop this epidemic. Individually, we should get tested frequently. Initiate treatment and stick to it when you have it. Remember, it’s not a death sentence! For everyone else: use a condom.

It’s because of these numbers that Durex, the world’s leading condom brand, launched Always Come Prepared, which amplifies the message of protecting one’s self from both HIV and AIDS.

The campaign aims to bring the conversation to a more understandable level, so the general public, especially young adults, can easily digest it. The campaign will be led by Sam YG, Toni Tony, and Slick Rick of Boys Night Out; HIV-testing advocacy group Love Yourself; and UNAIDS.

Basically, what people should remember is that the use of condoms is still the only known effective method of preventing HIV and STDs. And when it comes to condom use, I prefer Durex, which has a variety of choices, including Extra Thin, Extra Safe (they’re slightly thicker), and flavored condoms.

Condoms are highly effective in preventing HIV and STDs, are affordable, and can be purchased anywhere. You can also abstain, but where’s the fun in that?


This story is in partnership with Durex. For more information, visit the website or follow them on Facebook orTwitter.

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