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To the government of the Philippines:

  • Authorize the use of national funds to ensure adequate condom supplies. Enact comprehensive reproductive health legislation that explicitly recognizes the link between reproductive health and HIV prevention and authorizes the appropriation of public funds for condom supplies and information. In coordination with local governments and international donors, immediately assess condom supply needs in each local government unit, and develop a strategy for meeting those needs. Involve social marketing organizations and nongovernmental organizations working on HIV/AIDS in this process.
  • Develop an explicit national condom promotion strategy. Such a strategy should include, at a minimum, a fact sheet from the Department of Health setting out the effectiveness of condoms against HIV, a national policy favoring 100 percent accessibility of condoms in entertainment establishments, and an authorization to spend government funds on condom supplies and education.
  • Take immediate and effective steps to counter all misinformation about condoms. Such misinformation includes claims that condoms lead to higher rates of HIV infection, are less effective than abstinence-based HIV-prevention strategies, and contain pores that are permeable by HIV and other STD pathogens. Withhold public funds from organizations that make false or misleading statements about condoms or actively discourage them as an HIV prevention strategy. In their place, support programs that guarantee comprehensive information about HIV prevention, including information about the effectiveness of condoms.
  • Conduct a national review of HIV prevention interventions for sex workers. Review the current practice of screening sex workers for STDs in so-called social hygiene clinics. Ensure that any intervention aimed at preventing HIV/AIDS in the sex industry is conducted in a non-judgmental, non-stigmatizing manner, and reaches both sex workers and their clients. Ensure that such information on HIV/AIDS is provided to sex workers by trained and competent staff, and work with local nongovernmental organizations to ensure the provision of such information in outlets other than social hygiene clinics, such as nongovernmental health clinics, entertainment establishments, and public places. Coordinate with local governments to ensure an ample supply of condoms in all sex establishments and health clinics serving sex workers.
  • Expand HIV/AIDS information and education campaigns for men who have sex with men. Adopt measures that ensure accurate information about condom effectiveness during anal sex. Ensure distribution of this information through informal channels of peer educators, in addition to health facilities. Involve nongovernmental organizations in the development of these strategies.
  • Review the content of HIV prevention curricula in all public schools. Ensure accuracy, comprehensiveness, and proper implementation by trained and competent teachers. Withhold any public funds from school-based programs that censor age-appropriate information about condoms. Allow nongovernmental HIV/AIDS educators to provide complete information about HIV/AIDS, including condom use, in public schools.
  • Guarantee complete HIV/AIDS information for migrant workers. Ensure that information on HIV/AIDS given in pre-departure orientation seminars is comprehensive, integrated into discussions of migration realities, and accessible to both documented and undocumented migrants, as well as their spouses. Take steps to ensure that Filipino migrant workers who test positive for HIV have access to complete information about how to prevent HIV infection in others.
  • Cease any arbitrary interference with efforts to promote condom use. Ensure that accurate information about condoms delivered through television, radio and print media is protected from censorship. Ensure the representation of public health experts in any decision-making body charged with reviewing the content of HIV/AIDS-related programming or advertising. Individual elected officials should refrain from using their office to intimidate or attempt to discipline organizations that criticize restrictions on condom use or otherwise promote scientifically valid HIV prevention strategies.

To local governments in the Philippines:

  • Repeal ordinances prohibiting the distribution or promotion of condoms in public health facilities. Ensure that all health workers providing comprehensive HIV/AIDS prevention services are protected from any retribution from local officials who oppose condom use. Immediately investigate any allegations of nongovernmental organizations being discouraged by government officials from carrying out condom promotion activities. Ensure similar protections for individuals seeking to obtain condoms or other contraceptives from nongovernmental health clinics.
  • Immediately cease using the possession of condoms as evidence to arrest, detain, or prosecute suspected sex workers. Issue a directive to all police officers outlining the public health importance of condoms and encouraging them to exercise their discretion in a manner supportive of HIV prevention. Ensure that officers are regularly trained about this protocol and held accountable for any transgressions.
  • Ensure that no HIV test is administered in public health facilities without full and informed consent. Review policies on pre- and post-test counseling, and create a mechanism for continuous training of clinic personnel. Take steps to encourage widespread voluntary HIV testing and counseling while still ensuring that individuals know that tests are not mandatory.
  • Enact comprehensive HIV prevention strategies. Contribute to national HIV/AIDS surveillance by ensuring an adequate sample size for all risk groups in HIV/AIDS sentinel surveillance. As described above, work with the national government to ensure comprehensive HIV prevention programs for sex workers, adolescents, men who have sex with men, migrant workers, and others at high risk of infection.

To the United States and other supporters of HIV/AIDS programs in the Philippines:

  • Take all immediate steps to address the potential condom supply shortage in the Philippines. Assess condom needs in national and local health clinics, consult HIV/AIDS nongovernmental organizations about condom supply needs, and mobilize donor support. Encourage the Philippines Department of Health to authorize the appropriation of national funds for condom supplies.
  • Withhold any funding for programs that make false or misleading statements about the effectiveness of condoms. Ensure that any program teaching “abstinence until marriage” has safeguards to ensure that information about condoms is not withheld, censored or distorted. Take steps to ensure that grantees and sub-grantees do not stigmatize or discriminate against people living with or at risk of HIV/AIDS by associating condom use with sin or sexual promiscuity.
  • Ensure that any program aiming to prevent sexual transmission of HIV is comprehensive. Programs should conform to several guidelines, including:

  • No HIV prevention program should withhold information about the effectiveness of condoms against HIV infection.

  • All programs should refrain from presenting heterosexual marriage as the sole legitimate context for sex, and instead recognize without prejudice the sexual expressions and relationships of people who cannot legally marry, such as lesbians and gay men, or others who choose not to marry.

  • All programs should recognize that marriage does not guarantee safety from HIV infection, especially for those who cannot insist on or otherwise be sure of their spouse’s sexual fidelity.

  • All HIV prevention programs should be developed in consultation with local nongovernmental organizations and people living with and at high risk of HIV/AIDS.

    • Ensure that any restrictions on international family planning funds do not have an adverse impact on HIV prevention activities. Favorably review proposals that attempt to include comprehensive HIV prevention activities in family planning programs.
    • Encourage the promotion of condoms and HIV/AIDS information in multilateral policy documents. Do not oppose positive references to condoms and sex education in United Nations declarations pertaining to HIV/AIDS and related matters. Refrain from advocating positive reference to “abstinence-only” programs in these documents.

    To the Holy See:

    • The Roman Catholic Church is a civil society entity with a right to religious expression. In light of the Holy See’s recognition of the human right to health, however, the Holy See should consider retracting scientifically unfounded information it has disseminated about condoms and should further consider ceasing its opposition to references to condoms and to comprehensive HIV prevention in U.N. documents and declarations.

    <<previous  |  index  |  next>>May 2004