HIV & AIDS seems to be a distant problem, which happens in other countries. But surprisingly, HIV and AIDS is a growing problem in the Philippines!
A total of 316 new HIV cases had been recorded last September. That was only for a month! For January to September 2012, the total number of HIV cases is 2,466! This number are only the reported ones! Some cases might be undetected and unreported, too!
According to a news reported by Manila Bulletin online:
2,355 out of the 2,466 [HIV] cases were males and the 20 to 29 year old age group had the most number of cases for 2012.
“For the male age group, the most number of cases were found among the 20-24 years old (15 cases), 25-29 years old, (26 cases), and 30-34 years old (18 cases),” the Philippine HIV/AIDS registry said.
What’s more alarming is the age group of those who have contracted the virus. They are in the 20-29 year old age group!
Young Filipinos who are in their twenties are in the most danger! Why is this? What trends make this danger all the more palpable?
Easy access to sex.
Those with easy access to technology has more access to sex! The Daily Mail reported that teenagers with smartphones are more likely to have “more sex”. Come to think of it, it’s easier for young people who are actively looking for sex partners to approach their prospects. With the integration of Social Media in smartphones, young people can also send messages through Twitter or Facebook.
Changing mores and norms on sex.
Let’s admit it. The mores and norms on sex have changed! This is probably the result of increasing secularism. Young people are the target of most sex-oriented commercials on TV, radio, and online!
It’s safe to say that a great number of young professionals (most of them in their twenties) engage in casual sex. Those who work in Business Process Outsourcing companies (call centers, etc) may have heard lots of stories of casual sex among office-mates within the office premises or after an evening at the bar!
There’s also a story of a building in Ortigas and Clark, Pampanga where their sewers got clogged by condoms flushed by those in the building! I’m not sure if these stories are true, but I’ve heard it four or five times already.
Males having sex with males.
According to the Manila Bulletin news report:
Males having sex with other males were the predominant type of sexual transmission with 171 cases.
A friend of mine from Santiago City seems to confirm this. There’s a prevalence of young people who enter into relationship with gay men in exchange of monetary support. These young men are oftentimes called “iskolar ng bakla”! While the Philippines is very accepting of gays, it can’t be denied that something needs to be done with this issue!
How should we respond as a church?
“Most church youth activities these days are about Love, Courtship, and Marriage! It’s crazy!!” a friend of mine complained on Facebook earlier this year!
Yes, it’s crazy! But it seems that we, as a church, may be addressing the issue but fail to address the underlying issue of casual sex and the rising number of cases of HIV and AIDS.
Last August 24, Bishop Daniel Arichea led a workshop on HIV/AIDS at Central United Methodist Church. During this event:
‘Bishop Arichea called on Christians “to be more accepting and inclusive in their theology and ministry.”’
You can read more about this event here.
As youth workers and youth ministers, we need a strategy to talk about HIV/AIDS to young people and integrate it into whatever faith formation program we may have!
Beyond the feel-good “wait on God’s best for your life” and all those dating-related events and activities we have, we need to talk and connect with young people about their gender and sexuality.
It’s a difficult issue since sex is a taboo topic in the church. But you’d be surprised at the staggering amount of sexual knowledge of our young people!
How can we help them understand gender and sexuality biblically and in line with what we believe as a Church?
How can we help young people avoid HIV/AIDS?