How to fight HIV: Show you care or sow fear?

Education and accessible condoms

Landsburg even goes as far as arguing that increased activity by so-called "sexual conservatives" can slow down the rate of infection and reduce the prevalence of AIDS.

It is a revolutionary proposal, one that will make a lot here raise their brows and clutch their pearls, but the solution which Landsburg proposes at the end of his article is what everyone should divert their energy on: 

“It is often argued that subsidized (or free) condoms have an upside and a downside: The upside is that they reduce the risk from a given encounter, and the downside is that they encourage more encounters. But it's plausible that in reality, that's not an upside and a downside – it's two upsides. Without the subsidies, people don't use enough condoms, and the sort of people who most value condoms don't have enough sex partners.”

The topic certainly deserves a lengthier debate, and it is a discussion that should be tackled on with all the key stakeholders involved. But if there is one thing that we must acknowledge, it is that sowing fear of sex and HIV is not the best way to curb the epidemic. (READ: WHO: PH has fastest growing HIV epidemic in the world)

Educating people about the consequences of the disease (minus the sensationalism), encouraging them to practice safer sex, and making HIV testing and condoms both widely accessible and increasingly normal among the youth, are better, more sustainable solutions to stopping HIV. 

There is no need to further fuel HIV stigma and the discrimination of people living with HIV. What we need in this time of great need is empathy – not fear. –

Evan Tan is the administrative head of local HIV advocacy organization The Red Whistle. Volunteer to stop HIV by joining the group on Facebook

A version of this article earlier appeared on the writer's website Writer in Manila. This has been edited and republished with the writer’s permission.