Want free condoms? SafeSpacesPH app tells you where you can get it
MANILA, Philippines – In a country where buying contraceptives remains an issue, how do you protect yourself from unforeseen incidents?
This is the question that human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) prevention group LoveYourself sought to answer. (INFOGRAPHIC: How is HIV transmitted?)
In partnership with Save the Children, LoveYourself developed SafeSpacesPH, a platform for all sexual health and wellness needs. It is a mobile application where establishments that dispense condoms with water-based lubricants can be located.
LoveYourself Executive Director Ronivin Pagtakhan said that many people do not know that government-subsidized condoms are given for free or where to get these free condoms.
"The government offers condoms for free not just as contraceptives, but more importantly as a protection against contracting HIV and STIs (sexually transmitted infections). We just have to mobilize its distribution to ensure that we really target and reach the right market or people," Pagtakhan said.
According to the Department of Health, a total of 44,010 HIV positive cases and 2,156 died among people with HIV since 1984 to 2017. (READ: Number of new HIV cases in PH breaches 1,000 mark)
Pagtakhan pointed out that correct and consistent use of condoms with water-based lubricants remain the most effective method in preventing the spread of HIV.
But accessibility to these services is still a huge challenge.
"A sizable number of condoms procured by the government are largely unknown and untapped by the public, hence sometimes these were put to waste unused," he added.
LoveYourself and other HIV prevention groups aim to inform the public that sexual health and wellness is a basic right, especially to the youth and men-having-sex-with-men who are most at-risk to these sexual health concerns.
SafeSpacesPH shows "depots" or "safe spaces" that are non-discriminatory and sex-positive establishments. The app ensures that these depots have a sufficient supply of condoms for distribution. It also allows you to report how much supply is left, so the management can restock.
A registered user can easily check the supply status of a specific establishment. They can also give feedback and comment on the safe spaces.
LoveYourself said that through this application, people who need condoms don't need to go to a clinic, or buy over-the-counter of a convenience store with worries and fear of judgment anymore. (READ: 'Stop HIV shaming: When status is not the story)
"There’s nothing wrong in protecting one’s self, more so in using condoms with lube during sexual activities," the advocate group reiterated.
The mobile application can be downloaded on Google Play store and App Store. (READ: The thing about condoms)
The group also encourages the public to visit its two clinics along Shaw (LoveYourself Anglo) and Taft-Buendia (LoveYourself Uni), where people can take free and confidential HIV screening and free condom with water-based lubricants.
According to the DOH, cases of HIV in the Philippines is the "fastest growing" epidemic among Asia Pacific countries.
DOH reported that more Filipinos acquired the virus from 4,300 in 2010 to 10,500 in 2016. The figure is estimated to hit 142,000 by 2022 and 313,000 by 2030.
Last December 4, the House of Representatives passed the Philippine HIV and AIDS Policy bill with a vote of 188-0. The measure aims to prevent spread of HIV and AIDS. – Rappler.com
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