DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 4 Aug) – A survey by the University of Mindanao Institute of Popular Opinion (UM-IPO) showed that the people in Davao City perceive that the HIV/AIDS situation is becoming alarming, yet they continue to have false perception regarding the illness.
Survey results show that 8 in 10 Davaoenos have heard of the illness through various media channels and health organization.
The May 2014 survey, which involved 1,200 respondents, showed that they believe the health situation has reached to an “alarming level,” with 54 in 100 seeing the “infections” to be getting worse. Others (21 in 100) see HIV/AIDS to be controllable, while a few (5 in 100) believe that there’s nothing to worry about.
The beef of the survey pointed out how HIV/AIDS is not being discussed openly. This leads to the proliferating myths reflected in the answers of the respondents regarding the transmission of the virus.
The survey found that 8 in 10 believe that the cause of HIV is due to having sex with the opposite sex; 4 in 10 believe it’s homosexual intercourse that’s the cause.
Some of the respondents (2%) believe that the use of personal things owned by a person living with HIV (PLHIV) is a mode of transmission; a few (0.92%) even believe that physical contact also transmits the virus.
“Results pointed out strong social stereotyping,” Dr. Maria Linda Arquiza, UM-IPO director, said during Monday’s Kapehan sa Dabaw press conference. “There is a need to step up and strengthen campaigns on HIV/AIDS.”
Other notable findings in the survey is the perception that females are the common carriers of the virus; 55% of the respondents said this.
Some of the respondents (15%) believe that it’s the men who have sex with other men (or MSM) that are the carriers; while a few believe it’s the lesbians (13%) and straight men (15%).
Five in 10 Davaoenos also believe that it’s the young people who are active carriers of the virus.
“The Davaoenos are aware of the ways to protect themselves,” said Dr. Adrian Tamayo, UM-IPO research specialist. “From pre-determined reasons to protect oneself from the virus, practice of safe sex topped the list, followed by sexual abstinence and being faithful to a partner.”
He also added that the spread of the virus is a “libidal” issue. “This, the measures to reduce the spread of the virus is to keep sexually active and sexually curious individuals to be more cautious in their sexual activities.”
The survey further showed that the respondents are aware of the available programs to address HIV/AIDS.
“They reveal that programs that effectively raised their awareness are those of the national government (12%), media (9%), NGO (7%), community (6%), and religious groups (5%),” the survey summary read. It suggested that these awareness programs be calibrated to update individuals of the current sexual behaviors. “The national government will be more effective in its campaign if it will involve media and NGOs.”
In a previous interview with Dr. Jordana Ramiterre, head physician of the Reproductive Health and Wellness Center (RHWC), said that the information campaign under the RHWC includes community outreach in barangays and schools, and peer counseling.
“We still need to do more to really expand and intensify the prevention education and promotion of the test, and condom use to people who may be at risk for HIV/AIDS,” said Ramiterre.
She said that there should be a priority on key populations: men having sex with other men, freelance sex workers, and registered sex workers.
According to a document from the Philippine HIV and AIDS registry of the National Epidemiology Center (NEC), there have been a total of 866 reported cases of HIV/AIDS in the city since 1984; 92 of these were reported within the January-April period this year.
Of the 866 cases, 820 of these are male, while the rest are female – a stark contrast against the perceptions of Davaoenos that females are active carriers of the virus.
During the same January-April period this year, 36 (of the total 92) HIV/AIDS cases were reported to be from the 15-24 year-old age group; while 44 cases are from the 24-34 age group.
The most common reported mode of virus transmission during the same period is homosexual sexual intercourse.