March 23, 2010
On Monday, World Health Organization officials voiced support for the Philippine government's advocacy of condoms as a part of its HIV/AIDS prevention strategy. Condoms are "extremely effective protection against HIV and other [STDs]," said Soe Nyunt-U, WHO's Philippines representative.
When the Philippines Department of Health distributed free condoms ahead of Valentine's Day, Roman Catholic bishops there condemned the effort as contrary to Catholic teachings and of little help against HIV/AIDS. Bishops and priests in the country, which is up to 80 percent Catholic, advocate abstinence and monogamy in marriage as the most effective way to prevent STDs.
"The correct and consistent use of good quality condoms confers a level of protection as high as 85 to 95 percent against HIV transmission," Soe said. "Male and female condoms, when properly kept, stored, handled, and used, are the only scientifically proven barrier products currently available against HIV and other [STDs]."
"The number of newly reported HIV infections increased from one infection every three days in 2000, to one infection per day in 2007 and two infections per day in 2009," WHO said.
"Countries that have implemented robust 100 percent condom-use programs have been able to contain their fast-growing HIV epidemics first, and reverse the trend within a relatively short period of time," Soe said. He cited the experiences of Cambodia and Thailand as proof that condom use helps prevent infections.