MANILA, August 24, 2012?Young people can be safe from HIV by going back to love’s values?sacrifice and fidelity, according to Josephine Ignacio, an HIV & AIDS program coordinator of the National Secretariat for Social Action of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines.
“If love is true, it can wait, right?” Ignacio stressed during an interview at the sidelines of the ongoing HIV-AIDS workshop at the San Carlos Seminary in Makati.
She said young people’s “true love” can be grounded by family values such as modesty, self-control and fidelity and not by premature physical expression through sex.
“If [sex] is treated as a precious gift, then you don’t carry it around like a cheap merchandise…Only authentic sexual values can protect us from HIV,” Ignacio explained.
A 2006 study of young Cebuanos by UshmaUpadhyay revealed that girls whose relationships progressed quickly from crushes to dating to exclusive relationships had sex earlier.
The study also suggested that adolescents who went through pre-coital behavior like kissing and petting quickly are expected to have sex sooner.
In June 2012 alone, 25% of HIV-AIDS cases or 74 out of 295 cases were attributed to young people aged 15- 25 years.
Due to the alarming rise in HIV-AIDS among young people, the Philippine Catholic HIV and AIDS Network (PhilCHAN), in partnership with Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP), is working towards promoting a more humanized message about love and sexuality by incorporating Theology of the Body in Catholic schools’ curricula by SY 2013 – 2014.
Parents’ important role
NASSA also sees the crucial role parents continue to play in protecting their children from HIV-AIDS.
Through the project ‘Mainstreaming HIV in BECs’, NASSA aims to educate parents involved in basic ecclesial communities on HIV-AIDS, enabling them to talk about this reality with their families.
For Ignacio, this simply translates to more parents spending quality time with their children.
Around 500 lay leaders and seminarians are currently attending an HIV-AIDS workshop today at the San Carlos Seminary, Guadalupe.
Main speakers include Msgr. Robert Vitillo, Head of Caritas Internationalis Delegation to the UN in Geneva, Switzerland and Fr. Dan Cancino, coordinator of the Episcopal Commission on Health Care programs. [Nirva’ana Ella Delacruz]