Philippine President advises against using condoms
New cases of HIV in the Philippines have soared by 3,147 per cent in 10 just years, according to new research, the Independent reports.
More than 11,000 cases were reported in 2017, a near 20 per cent increase on the 9,264 cases reported in 2016, according to data released by the Philippine Department of Health.
The use of contraception has historically been frowned on in the majority Catholic country. But in 2012, the health department reformed their reproductive health laws and started encouraging family planning and safe sex to reduce high rates of teen pregnancy in the country.
Despite the rise, President Rodrigo Duterte recently advised his countrymen to avoid using condoms because “it is not satisfying.”
Addressing a group of migrant workers, he then put a wrapped sweet in his mouth, adding: “Here, try eating it without unwrapping it...eat it. That’s what a condom is like.”
The comments were condemned by Human Rights Watch (HRW), which accused him of demonstrating “reckless disregard for the health of Filipinos.”
“Instead of criticising condoms as a pleasure inhibitor, Duterte should take meaningful action to protect the health of Filipinos by backing urgently needed policy changes to expand the accessibility and use of condoms in the Philippines,” the group said in a statement.
Senator Risa Hontiveros said President Duterte needed to “stop making thoughtless, reckless and irresponsible” statements at the expense of public health.
She said: “President Duterte seems to be overly concerned with pleasure. There is nothing pleasurable or funny about the rise in our cases of HIV and teen pregnancy."
It comes after HRW warned in 2016 that the country was already on track for a full-blown HIV epidemic in Asia Pacific.
HRW said HIV prevalence among men who have sex with men has increased tenfold in the last five years, but accused the government of failing to adequately target prevention measures.
Despite the surge in cases in the Philippines, new HIV cases have gone down worldwide, from 2.1 million in 2015 to 1.8 million in 2016, according to the World Health Organization.