Briones’ flip-flop is consistent with the education department’s inadequate response to the HIV crisis, despite efforts by some teachers to address the dangerous absence of HIV prevention education in schools. Previous education secretaries have mostly ignored the issue, despite official data indicating the Philippines has one of the fastest-growing HIV epidemics in the Asia-Pacific region. Data also shows that Filipino adolescents – particularly men who have sex with men – have some of the fastest growth rates in new infections.
The derailment of the condom distribution plan also reflects the efforts of conservative lawmakers, led by Senator Vicente Sotto III. Sotto has argued that condom distribution in high schools only encourages students to “indulge in sex,” despite compelling evidence to the contrary. The Catholic Church has also relentlessly attacked the proposal to make condoms available in high schools.
The Philippines needs to address this HIV crisis, but arguments that ignore science will only increase the likelihood of HIV transmissions among young Filipinos. It’s up to the Department of Health to override these barriers to condom access and for the Department of Education to implement its long-delayed Comprehensive Sexuality Education program, which includes modules on safer sex education and HIV prevention. Until that happens, young people will continue to be at needless risk of HIV infection.
This report documents Russian authorities’ stepped-up measures aimed at bringing the internet under greater state control. Since 2012, Russian authorities have unjustifiably prosecuted dozens of people for criminal offenses on the basis of social media posts, online videos, media articles, and interviews, and shut down or blocked access to hundreds of websites and web pages. Russian authorities have also pushed through parliament a raft of repressive laws regulating internet content and infrastructure. These laws provide the Russian government with a broad range of tools to restrict access to information, carry out unchecked surveillance, and censor information the government designates as “extremist,” out of line with “traditional values,” or otherwise harmful to the public.