Stop the Spread of HIV in the Philippines

Target: Rodrigo Duterte, President of the Philippines

Goal: Endorse condoms to prevent the spread of HIV.

Over the past decade, the number of HIV diagnoses in the Philippines has increased by a staggering 3000%. Despite remarkable progress around the world to limit the spread of the disease, it is spreading at an alarming rate in the Philippines. The global total of new HIV cases decreased from 2.1 million to 1.8 million from 2015 to 2016. Contrarily, in that same timeframe, the diagnoses in the Philippines increased from 9,264 to 11,103. This year-over-year increase is just a small sampling of the decades long increase, according to data from the country’s health agency.

The high increase in new cases in the Philippines runs counter to the rest of the world’s efforts to fight against HIV. Health experts suspect that a contributing factor to the terrifyingly fast spread of HIV in the Philippines is the influence and actions of President Rodrigo Duterte. Duterte has discouraged condom use among men. He has said that citizens of the Philippines should avoid condoms simply because they are “not satisfying.” He said, “I am not joking. Just follow the government program [on reproductive health]. WE have free pills but just avoid condoms, because it is not satisfying.” The Miami Herald reported that after making this statement, Duterte did a demonstration using a piece of candy. He put a piece of wrapped candy in his mouth saying, “Here, try eating it without unwrapping it. Eat it. That’s what a condom is like.”

Acording to the country’s health agency, 95% of the new HIV cases in the Philippines involved male transmission, which can be prevented through condom use. Carlos Conde, a representative for Human Rights Watch, spoke with the Filipino health agency saying that Duterte needed to take “meaningful action” on policies to prevent the spread of HIV, such as expanding condom access.


Dear President Duterte,

Since 2007, there has been a 3,147% increase in new HIV cases in the Philippines. This virus, which is sexually transmitted and effectively prevented using safe sex practices and condoms, is spreading at an alarming rate in your country despite the fact that the rates of HIV transmission are dropping in other parts of the world. As the leader of your nation it is your responsibility to keep the people of the Philippines well informed as well as to set an example for your country.

Your recent statements about the unsatisfying nature of condom use are probably contributing to the high rate of new cases of HIV in your country. 95% of new cases involve male transmission, which can be prevented through condom use. I urge you to promote safe sex practices, including condom use, to prevent the spread of HIV in the Philippines.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Keith Kristoffer Bacongco

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