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With a vision to mobilize awareness and information on safe sex and education, the Narra Rural Health Unit (RHU) in collaboration of the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) and key speakers from Provincial HIV, AIDS and STI Program, launched an information education campaign (IEC) Thursday at Narra Centerpoint.
Attended by young members of the LGBTQ community and students from public high schools of the municipality, the IEC held several forums and talks with speakers including Meyric Garces, Provincial Program Manager for HIV, AIDS, and STI.
Garces educated Narra youngsters about the background, timeline, and status of the continuous battle of the youth all over Palawan against the risks and dangers of not practicing safer sex.
According to Garces, the new and revised HIV Law of 2019 covers HIV awareness among youth, with coordination and support from the community, the Department of Education (DepEd), private offices and other stakeholders.
“Dapat sa mga school ninyo, itinuturo na ito. Kami mula sa RHU at PHO nagka-conduct kami ng school to school campaign para maging aware tayo sa harm and effects of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases,” Garces said.
“Lahat ng iba’t-ibang organizations and offices iniinform nila ang mga members nila tungkol sa HIV awareness,” he added.
Garces also noted that Palawan, as of press time, has 8 cases of HIV and AIDS involving straight couples, citing that awareness should be promoted not just among the LGBTQ but also for the whole community.
The new and revised HIV Law of 2019 also covers free HIV testing for pregnant women and adolescents aging from 15 years old.
“Kasi ang misconception sa HIV, ang nagkakaroon nito ay ‘yung mga bakla, mga bisexual, mga ganyan lang. Hindi ganyan. Dito sa Palawan, meron tayong walong mag-asawa, ibig sabihin hindi sila bakla, sila ay straight. Kaya hindi lamang ito para sa mga bakla, ito ay para sa lahat,” Garces said.
Garces further said that cases of sexually-transmitted infections (STI) and teenage pregnancies in the province are still increasing, further disclosing that they have recorded a number of six students aging from 13-16 coming from one of the high schools in southern Palawan (Which Palawan Daily News wishes to be unnamed) has been positive for STI.
“Ito ay grade 9,10, 11,12. Noong nag-testing kami kahapon, anim na bata ang nag-positive sa STD [sexually transmitted diseases]. Alangan nagka-STD ka ng tinitigan mo lang ‘yung partner mo. Kaya kayo lang ang nakakakilala sa sarili ninyo. Alam ninyo ang ginagawa ninyo. Kaya dapat magpa-check kayo,” Garces said.
This, among other reasons, is why proper awareness and IEC should be pushed all over schools both public and private, Graces further explained.
Meanwhile, Narra Mayor Gerandy Danao, during his speech, reminded the Narra youngsters to think and always take precautions in every decision.
“Kailangan nating baguhin ang panahon, wag nating sundan ang maling gawain. Matuto na tayo sa tamang pupuntahan ng buhay natin,” Danao said.
“Ang advise ko, mag-aral kayo ng maayos. Tapusin ninyo. Pag nakatapos kayo saka lang ninyo makikita na magiging ibang-iba ang buhay ninyo,” he added.
After the lecture, a voluntary screening was conducted by health workers of the municipality followed by the Search for HIV AIDS Advocate 2019 joined by members of the LGBTQ.