INSTEAD of playing with gadgets, or toys appropriate for their age, some 11- and 12-year-olds are engaging in sex for money and getting infected with sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). The Department of Health (DOH)-Central Visayas expressed alarm after monitoring children as young as 11 and 12 with STDs.
“These children do not understand the risk of having multiple sexual partners. Most of them get paid for having sex,” DOH-Central Visayas HIV/Aids program coordinator Dr. Van Phillip Baton said.
Baton said these children engage in sex to earn money but are unaware of the risks they are taking.
He also said that based on the data of the Epidemiology Bureau, the rate of HIV infection among those 15 to 24 years old is rising, while the 25 to 34 age group still has the highest rate of infection.
Based on the latest data for Central Visayas in May, 29 tested positive in the 15 to 24 age group. From January to May, 118 tested positive in the 15 to 24 age group, second only to the 200 who tested positive in the 25 to 34 age group.
The DOH said that based on the national data, an average of 35 persons got infected per day this year.
“The increase in the number of cases is not always bad. The increase in the number of cases means that we are getting those infected to undergo treatment,” Baton said.
“The problem is what happens to those who are diagnosed. Are they being treated? And based on our national data, the answer is no,” said Baton.
Of the 5,982 cases in Central Visayas since 1984, only 2,485 have undergone treatment, which is offered free. Central Visayas has the fourth highest number of HIV cases in the country, next to the National Capital Region, Region 4A (Calabarzon) and Region 3 (Central Luzon). (HBL of Superbalita Cebu/ML)