Rights group urges Philippines action on HIV
A human rights watchdog says the Philippines is facing one of the fastest growing epidemics of HIV in the Asia Pacific, fueled by government policies that restrict intervention, including access to condom by men who have sex with men. Human Rights Watch said in a report released yesterday that HIV prevalence among men who have sex with men has increased tenfold in the last five years, but the government has failed to adequately target prevention measures on that population.
It said HIV prevention education in Philippine schools is woefully inadequate, commercial marketing of condoms is nonexistent, and barriers to condom access and HIV testing - particularly those below 18 who are required by law to have parental consent- have contributed to the worsening epidemic.
The report said the problems found in national and local government policies are compounded by longstanding resistance of the Roman Catholic church to contraceptives. More than 80 percent of Filipinos are Catholic.
Peter Mosende, a country officer of the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS or UNAIDS, said the Philippines has the highest rate of new HIV infections in the Asia-Pacific region.