Supporting the Future: 'Speak Out Zamboanga' tackles HIV-Aids

IN ITS aim to bring Human Immunodeficiency Virus-Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (HIV-Aids) awareness to young people, "Speak Out Zamboanga," a youth forum in Zamboanga, recently discussed the complexities of the epidemic that affects the lives of the children and youth all over the world.

There is no denying that the number of people living with HIV-Aids worldwide is alarmingly increasing since it was first recognized in the early 1980s.

Aids is caused by HIV, a virus that gradually attacks the immune system cells of the body. As HIV imperceptibly damages these cells, the body becomes more vulnerable or defenseless to various infections.

Christian Olasiman of Speak Out Zamboanga presented a topic at the First Aids City Congress based on the output from a summit conference he participated in Baltimore, Maryland, Unites State of America.

Olasiman said there is a demand worldwide to understand the importance in integrating the health and welfare of an adolescent with the reproductive maternal and newborn child health.

He pointed out that there are several programs for pregnant mothers and babies. However, there are no programs on reproductive health issues that encourage the involvement of the youth.

Lack of comprehensive and accurate overview on the symptoms, treatment and prevention of this infection can be attributed to insufficient data that focus on adolescent’s reproductive health, he added.

Olasiman said the national resource allocation to address the growing number adolescents who died of Aids-related illnesses is neither optimal nor efficient.

In the country, he said Zamboanga Peninsula ranks 5th in prevalence of premarital sex and the age of onset of sexual activity is decreasing for males.

Jack (not his real name) said in an interview that living with HIV-Aids has a huge impact to his life. In fact, his boyfriend died of Aids-related illness in 2013.

After knowing that he was positive with HIV, Jack received lots of criticisms from people around him.

Jack said he was not ashamed of his condition. Instead, it made him a better and stronger person than he used to be.

He never felt isolated because there are people who still accepted him and various organizations that continuously support people living with HIV-Aids. (Alinazar H. Lahid, contributor)