Miss Universe 2015 Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach has been an outspoken advocate of proper sexual education and awareness to address the alarming increasing cases of sexually transmitted diseases like HIV/AIDS (Human Immunodeficiency Virus infection and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) all around the world.
In a May 18 interview with the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR), Wurtzbach stated that she’ll use her influence as Miss Universe to make a difference. She said that “as a ‘pretty face’ who’s wearing a crown,” she has the chance to “reel people in,” and then “hit them with a message.”
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Miss Universe 2015 said that both the government and its citizens have their parts to play in all of this; with (1) the government officials addressing bigger problems like human trafficking and rampant drug use which includes needle sharing (one of the ways AIDS/HIV is also transferred), and (2) the public having access to information pertaining to HIV/AIDS, proper sex education, and a definition of what safer sex is.
“To improve understanding, more people need to talk about it. And that’s exactly what I’m doing,” Wurtzbach stated.
“I am definitely not an expert but I’m slowly starting to learn, and I still ask questions. Everyone needs to be educated, including advocates, so that we may spread the message more clearly and accurately,” she added.
Wurtzbach also highlighted that talking about sex in the Philippines is taboo.
“In addition to boredom and lack of education which often leads young people to take drugs, the Philippines is a very conservative, Catholic country; no one ever talks about sex. It is considered taboo to even ask your parents about sex. When young people are held back from learning, they start to struggle and explore and make mistakes. So I think that’s why it’s hitting the younger generation more now,” Wurtzbach added.
Research from the Department of Health shows that there are 736 new cases of HIV infection in March 2016. The report also included that the age group with the biggest portion of HIV cases has changed from 30 to 39 years old from 2005 to 2009 to a younger 20 to 29 demographic from 2010 to 2015.
Aside from the report pertaining to HIV/AIDS, an earlier report also showed the rise in numbers of teen pregnancies in the country which can be attributed to the lack of information on sex and safe sex methods. This was highlighted in a report released by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in February 2016 showing that one in every ten Filipinas between the ages of 15 and 19 is already a mother or is pregnant with their first child.
One of the obstacles to the implementation of proper sex and reproductive health education is the various conservative religious groups and similarly conservative religious legislators who have been lobbying against the inclusion of a proper sex education in public schools and the availability of contraception materials for the poor.