Be responsible young people.
This was the challenge of Dr. Wilfredo Cabral, the Valenzuela City Schools Division Superintendent, to high school students during the REXponsableng Kabataan Olympics held at the Valenzuela City Astrodome last Friday, November 28.
Speaking at the program, Cabral pointed out that teen pregnancy and HIV are two of the most pressing social problems the nation is facing.
He urged the youth present during the event to ask themselves how prepared are they in facing such issues, calling on young people to think about the greater good.
“Stop thinking about yourself,” Cabral said. “At the end of the day, what you do to yourself becomes what you do for the society.”
Cabral also assured that the DepEd is one with the city government in addressing the problem of teen pregnancy and HIV.
The event is part of the city government and the DepEd’s plan to raise awareness on the issue of HIV ahead of today’s World AIDS Day.
It has been three decades since it first appeared in the radar of global health, but the HIV pandemic remains unparalleled. More than 39 million lives have been claimed by AIDS-related diseases, and about 35 million people are still living with HIV or AIDS. Thanks to advancements in science and medicine, many of those with HIV are able to live relatively long and healthy lives. The chances of HIV transferring from one person to another has also been significantly reduced through the help of certain medicines.
However, while the quality of life of HIV-positive people is improving, the general image among the public remains primitive. Many myths and misconception on HIV and AIDS still exist.
For instance, the terms HIV and AIDS are used interchangeably. “They are different,” said Renylito De Leon, the Valenzuela Chapter Representative of the Philippine Red Cross Youth. “AIDS is the disease itself, while HIV is the virus.”
According to De Leon, a person who has HIV does not automatically have AIDS. “There are various stages of HIV infection, depending on the number of virus present in a patient’s body,” he said. “AIDS only occurs when there is enough virus present to cause the symptoms.”
The manner of transmission of the disease is also subject to misconceptions. According to De Leon, HIV is not transmitted through mosquito bites, toilet, sharing of utensils, kissing or body contact. The virus is transmitted through unprotected sex, and transfusion of infected blood. In particular, the body fluids that can transmit HIV are blood, semen, vaginal secretion and breast milk.
Even a pregnant HIV-infected mother does not automatically pass the virus to her unborn child, De Leon said, since the child is protected by the placenta and has a different set of circulation from her mother.
De Leon, however, pointed out that no cure for HIV exists yet. Anti-retroviral drugs can only inhibit the multiplication of the virus and, thus, prevent a patient from acquiring AIDS and allow him/her to live a relatively healthy and normal life.
The best one can do is to seek medical help immediately, De Leon advised, as early detection can help in treating the symptoms.
Red ribbon image from Disease Image Info.