National Youth Commission chairperson Cariza “Aiza” Seguerra urged the youth to be more responsible and intelligent in making decisions and to shun the carefree attitude, warning that more Filipino youth are being infected by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

In a press briefing in Malacañan on Tuesday, February 14, Seguerra said an improved sex education program could help control the spread of the infection, especially among the youth.

According to Seguerra, out of 28 Filipinos infected by HIV, 24 or 26 are youth. She said 62 percent of new infections are among 15 to 24 years old while 85 percent of the new infections are between 15 to 30 years old.

“Ako po ang masasabi ko sa mga kabataan mag-ingat kayo. Kasi minsan tayong mga kabataan, kayong mga kabataan, sometimes you think that meron tayong parang ano eh parang invincibility cloak eh, alam mo ‘yung parang ‘pwede nating gawin lahat,’ ‘YOLO’ ika nga,” Seguerra said.

“But, you know, sometimes with risky behavior these things happen. So akin lang is yes, you are the youth; yes, you want to live life to the fullest; but please also be responsible. Make intelligent decisions,” Seguerra added.

The NYC chairperson said that antiretroviral medicines are given for free for those infected by HIV.

“Libre po ang gamot sa HIV. Ika nga ay manageable na ito. Pero bakit ang dami pa ring namamatay? Bakit marami pa rin ang nai-infect? So I think, ang pinaka-problema dito is, it’s not actually the HIV that kills people, it’s actually the stigma,” Seguerra said.

The NYC chairperson added that lowering the age to 15 years when Filipinos may seek free HIV testing at public health centers would do much in controlling the disease which has reached unacknowledged crisis levels.

HIV infection over time potentially leads to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Infection with HIV occurs by the transfer of blood, semen, vaginal fluid, pre-ejaculate or breast milk.

In the same briefing, meanwhile, Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey “reaffirms that the President is on the right track for espousing economic progress, and peace and order.

Based on the Fourth Quarter SWS Survey, 48 percent of Filipinos expected that their personal quality of life would improve in the next 12 months compared to the three percent that expected it would get worse.

The same survey revealed that 51 percent of Filipinos were optimistic that the general Philippine economy in 2017 would get better compared to the eight percent that felt it would deteriorate.

Abella also lauded the recent survey by InterNations that the Philippines is one of the best countries for raising a family.

“Founded in 2007 and the world’s largest network for expatriates of people work and live abroad, the Philippines ranked number 17 in the list of best countries for raising a family…the Philippines is one of the best in the world for the quality of education, for family and well-being, and a place that has a friendly attitude towards children,” he added.

Likewise, Abella said that the door remains open for cooperation between government and the church, especially on matters concerning the poor.

“At the end of the day, anything is possible…If they (had) shown this from the very beginning, maybe we would have a better working relationship now…at this particular stage, things will have to be worked out, okay. But the initiative must come from the CBCP,” he said.

“It’s just a question of showing goodwill, you know, being civil,” he added.###PND