Condoms should be made available in high schools for teens who are having sex, says the American Academy of Pediatrics.
"If you look at the number of new cases of sexually transmitted diseases in this country, 25 percent of them are in the adolescent population," says Dr. David Kaplan, chair of the committee that issued the report, released today, the academy's latest to physicians and health educators about adolescence and sexual behavior.
"This is a major public health issue that needs to be addressed," says Kaplan, who also is chief of adolescent medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Denver.
Condom Distribution Does Not Increase Sexual Activity
The pediatricians say studies show the availability of condoms does not increase sexual activity but can decrease unintended pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases and HIV.
"In the interest of public health, restrictions and barriers to condom use should be removed," the academy, the leading organization of pediatricians, says.
Kaplan acknowledges some religious communities do not favor condom distribution in high schools, preferring abstinence until marriage. The academy is also recommending that abstinence be encouraged.
But Kaplan says each community should assess what is happening in its back yard.
Communities Are Different
"For those communities in which there are a lot of STDs condom distribution should be looked at as an important public health intervention," Kaplan says.
While condom usage is rising among teens, Kaplan says, the STD rate is still too high in this population.
"Unless a condom is used every time it will not provide protection," Kaplan says. "Teens are not always consistent with condom use."
Condoms Not Completely Effective
Condoms do not prevent all new cases of sexually transmitted diseases, such as herpes and human papilloma virus (the virus implicated in genital warts and cervical cancer), but having them available in an educational environment raises awareness about risk avoidance, Kaplan says.
HPV and herpes can be transmitted even with condom usage because lesions may be present at other parts of the genital area besides the tissue that is protected by a condom, Kaplan says.
The recommendations are published in the latest issue of medical journal Pediatrics.
CHURCH leaders are supporting the campaign of the Department of Health (DOH) against irresponsible sex but not the distribution of condoms in public schools, saying it will only worsen rather than solve the rising number of HIV/AIDS cases among the youth.
Data show that from 1984 to October 2016, about 10,279 of the total number of 38,114 HIV/AIDS cases were in the 15-24 years-old range.
Among 15 to 24 years olds, there were 10,279 HIV cases during the period, of which 9,066 were tallied during the last five years or from 2011 to 2016, prompting the government to tag it a “youth epidemic.”
To address the problem, the DOH is toying with the idea of making condoms available in public schools starting in 2017.
But according to Novaliches Bishop Emeritus Teodoro Bacani Jr., the proposal of the DOH would only create more problems because it would encourage the youth to engage in premarital or extramarital sex.
“It’s a wrong tactic. There will be more damage than before. Aside from being risky, it will also deliver the wrong message to that they will be safe from the AIDS virus with the use of condom. It is not safe because the virus can pass through even the smallest hole in a condom,” the prelate said in an interview with Radio Veritas.
Instead of free condoms, he added, the government should raise public awareness to prevent the spread of the disease.
Father Anton Pascual, chief operating officer of Radio Veritas, said sex is sacred and must be shared only by responsible married couples.
Pascual suggested that instead of condoms, the youth or any member of the community should practice sexual abstinence outside of marriage, to be faithful to one partner when married and value love and sacredness of sex as a gift of God in marriage.
Fr. Jerome Secillano, executive secretary, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines public affairs committee, branded the DOH campaign as nothing but a “waste” of taxpayers’ money.
“Distributing condoms will only condone sexual activity among students. The government should invest more in educating people about the perils of ‘sporadic sexual activity’ than procuring and distributing condoms,” he said.