Advocate and member of youth NGOs and development agencies
“The right of the youth to be free of HIV/AIDS”
As a youth advocate, Rain makes sure that UNFPA development projects for HIV/AIDS are attuned to the needs of the youth and the realities that they face as youth (ages 15 to 24 years old) living with HIV/AIDS.
“Sa totoo lang, the information [on sexual health] is there, but the problem is the lack of accurate and right information.”, says Rain. speaking about his observations of the youth today and their attitudes towards sex. “Because of cultural and societal dictates, masyadong pa din limited ang pag access ng information. The youth ignore the awareness campaigns and think that they’re invincible and won’t get infected.”
This feeling of invincibility and lack of access to right and accurate information has dangerous implications for the youth, “They don’t accept that their behavior is risky. Others don’t believe that they are promiscuous and therefore don’t need to practice safe sex. Nahihiya pa sila bumili ng condoms.”
Emphasizing his point, Rain narrates, “Once when my friends and I were at a convenience store, this young guy ahead of us bought 5 packs of condoms. The cashier didn’t say anything, but as soon as the [customer left], she looked at his colleague and they instantly started laughing. ‘Grabe naman yun!’,they said to one another. Because he was buying condoms, they categorized him as someone na “mahilig” or ‘madami itong ka-sex’ the benefits of wearing condoms is overlooked. So what does that say to those of us who heard those comments? Nakakahiya to buy condoms?”
Discrimination such as this is largely due to the lack of proper information. “Pag reproductive health and pinag-uusapan, nangingilag pa din talaga ang mga tao. We need to wake up to the reality because until we do, the youth will remain to be a vulnerable group, when they don’t have to be.”