The Department of Health (DOH) recently released a study indicating the HIV/AIDS cases are escalating and it was found that social networking is a contributing factor to this increase in HIV cases.
The study, entitled “OSN (online social network) Use and Risks for HIV and other Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD) among men Having Sex with Men (MSM),” was done from Sept 1 t Nov. 4 by a team of epidemiologists from the DOH led by Dr. Jovin Maestro.
One of the objectives of the study was to determine the connection between OSN and MSM which became the most “predominant type of sexual transmission” starting 2007. Prior to this, commercial sex workers were the leading source of infections in the country.
By the way, HIV stands for human immune deficiency virus. It is the virus that can lead to acquired immune deficiency syndrome, or AIDS. CDC estimates that about 56,000 people in the United States contracted HIV in 2006.
HIV damages a person’s body by destroying specific blood cells, called CD4+ T cells, which are crucial to helping the body fight diseases. HIV is spread primarily by:
- Not using a condom when having sex with a person who has HIV. All unprotected sex with someone who has HIV contains some risk. However:
- Unprotected anal sex is riskier than unprotected vaginal sex.
- Among men who have sex with other men, unprotected receptive anal sex is riskier than unprotected insertive anal sex.
- Having multiple sex partners or the presence of other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) can increase the risk of infection during sex. Unprotected oral sex can also be a risk for HIV transmission, but it is a much lower risk than anal or vaginal sex.
- Sharing needles, syringes, rinse water, or other equipment used to prepare illicit drugs for injection.
- Being born to an infected mother—HIV can be passed from mother to child during pregnancy, birth, or breast-feeding.
Now let me just say that the study is right, social media is contributing in the increase of HIV cases in the country, perhaps all over the world for that matter. But studies also shows that parties and events also contributes to the increase. Which means, social media just like parties and events - another venue for people to meet.
The study focuses on the danger of social media in connection to the escalating problems of HIV. But social media is a strong influencer as well.
With the study, it depicts in a way that social media is a disadvantage or it depicts the negative side of it. But social media can also be an advantage to our agencies - to further educate our youth.
What am trying to say is if people goes to social media sites to look for sex, why don't we use the same venue to educate them? Post information about the danger of HIV or having casual sex. Post pictures or videos about the disease.
Tips on how to say NO to sex invitations. How to detect people with bad intentions. Information on how to prevent having HIV. In other countries, social media is also a contributing factor in lowering down cases of STD (sexuallly transmitted disease) through education.
Why don't we setup pages where people can ask questions about the disease? Why dont we have experts there to answer these questions online? While the study shows the negative side of social media, we can do a lot of effective things to turn social media to be on our side.
Now that we have the results of the study, what are we going to do about it? What is our next course of action to prevent the further increase of HIV cases in the country?
Technology can do more good than bad is what I can say - read between the lines. I am logging off. Stay cool. God Bless!
By JERRY LIAO