Given the present COVID-19 situation, the dangers of HIV have escaped public awareness, with many still unmindful of how HIV is equally deadly as Coronavirus.
This view is further validated by data from the DOH-Epidemiology Bureau showing that from July to September 2020, there were 1,875 confirmed HIV-positive individuals reported to the HIV/AIDS & ART Registry of the Philippines (HARP). Of these, ninety-five percent or 1,783 of the reported cases are male and the median age is at 28 years old.
Continuing with its mission of informing the public, especially the youth, about HIV awareness during a pandemic, Durex recently resumed its University Townhalls, now dubbed University Digi-Townhall, as part of their ongoing Protection & Preparedness Education (PPE) Campaign.
Shifting the event to an online platform, what used to be held annually in various college campuses is now done virtually, still with subject matter experts as key resource persons and the Boys Night Out crew—Slick Rick, TonyToni, and Sam YG—as hosts.
“By moving our townhalls online, we want to bring forth the strong message that Durex continues to reach out to the youth who are the most vulnerable,” says Durex Philippines. “It’s critical that we keep them informed of the dangers of contracting HIV, of the importance of using protection, especially during this COVID-19 pandemic.”
Thus, through the University Digi-Townhall, Durex aims to help reverse this trend by helping people—particularly singles and stay-at-home couples—be more prepared, protected and educated about HIV, highlighting the importance of safe and protected sex during these challenging times with the use of condoms.
For the first University Digi-Townhall, held in partnership with LoveYourself, Inc., National University Student Government, National University Student Affairs Office, and PUP College of Business Administration Student Council, infectious disease expert Dr. Edsel Salvana, Educator, Sex Therapist and Licensed Psychologist Dr. Rica Cruz RPsy, and Jabar Ysmael, a Person Living with HIV, were on hand to share with the close to 400 participants their valuable insights and advice.
In his talk, Dr. Salvana discussed the state of HIV/AIDS in the Philippines following the alarming UNAIDS annual report which states that the country still has one of the highest growing infection rates in the world. Dr. Cruz, furthermore, emphasized how proper awareness coupled with practicing safe sex can help curb the spread of HIV, contextualizing her presentation on safe sex in the time of pandemic. Meanwhile, Esmael drew from personal experience as he spoke on the challenges of dealing with HIV/AIDS in the Philippines, while underscoring the importance of getting yourself tested.
“In view of recent data, the urgent need for Filipinos to always stay prepared and protected against HIV/AIDS cannot be stressed enough,” says Dr. Salvana. “This has become ever more critical now in these times when health and wellness awareness is paramount.”
As preparations are underway for the next leg of their University Digi-Townhall, Durex continues to remind everyone that no one is invulnerable to catching HIV and that we must always come prepared.