03/05/2010, 00.00
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Philippine government "spreads" use of condoms even on television, radio and in newspapers

by Santosh Digal
Catholics and bishops condemn the Department of Health (DOH) initiative and accuse the government of using public taxes for campaigns that go against morality. Former director of the DOH: condoms do not prevent pregnancy or protect against infection.

Manila (AsiaNews) - The Philippine government has extended its campaign on the use of condoms and contraceptives to stop AIDS to TV, radio, newspapers and public places. While continuing to distribute free condoms in the districts of Manila. The Church and Catholics have called for a halt to the initiative, carried out with public money. Bishops and pro-life organizations have warned about the risks of such a campaign on the consciences of young people and sponsor the role of parents in moral and sexual education of their children.  

"The available resources should be channelled to meet   basic needs like food, medicine, education and work - said Msgr. Nereo Odchimar, president of the Filipino bishops' conference - most importantly, it is unfair that the taxes of citizens, including Catholics, are used for initiatives that go against morality. " The prelate adds that the "commercial" message sponsored by the Department of Health (DOH) not only affects moral values such as family life, but it confuses the minds of young people and weakens their future as parents. He urges the Government to promote chastity and fidelity as the most effective way to fight AIDS.    

"The distribution of free condoms - says Ariel Valencia, director of the DOH in the region of West Visayas - is the only one method in a campaign that aims to empower people on the prevention of AIDS and HIV." These days the leaders of the DOH have stressed that the ads have no intention of promoting  free sex or the use contraceptives, but wants instead to spread responsible sexual behaviour.  

Ligaya Acosta, medical director of the Human Right International and for 28 years employed in the DOH, says: "The condom protects from AIDS in only 35% of cases and its prolonged use  only increases the risk of infection. We condegno the Doh for this campaign, especially because its executives know the scientific studies that say that the condom does not limit the cases of pregnancy and will not protect against infection". Acosta cites the case of Thailand, a country where AIDS cases have passed from 112 thousand in 1987 to 1.3 million in 2009, despite an increase of 100% in the distribution of condoms among the population.

"The best way to avoid transmission of sexual diseases – she continues - is abstinence and fidelity in marriage."  

For years, churches and pro-life organizations have promoted the schools  Natural Family Program, which aims to disseminate information on risks of sexual promiscuity and the use of contraceptives, instead sponsoring a conscious and responsible sexual life based on the values of Christianity. In 2009, 629 new cases of AIDS out of 88 million inhabitants were registered in the Philippines. Despite the trend is on the increase compared to 2008, the country has one of the lowest infection rates in Asia. In 2008 the country recorded about 9 thousand infected (0.1% of the population) and 308 deaths.  

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