Text, Internet ‘addicts’ at risk of getting HIV
Young Filipinos hooked on text messaging and the Internet, particularly those who frequent chat rooms, blog and social networking sites, are at risk of contracting the highly contagious human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), according to a recent study.
An AIDS Society of the Philippines (ASP) study suggested that two to five out of 10 Filipinos aged 18 to 29 turn to text messaging and chat rooms to arrange sexual encounters.
At least 29 percent of the “non-LGBTs” (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) interviewed in Metro Manila said they use text messaging to initiate casual sex while 17.6 percent said they go to chat rooms for such purpose.
But the two media formats for sexual encounters were more rampant among “LGBTs,” with 52 percent of the 214 respondents saying they use text messaging while 48 percent visit chat rooms, according to the study conducted by Dr. Isabel Melgar, consultant for the ASP.
Melgar presented the results of her study at the ASP general assembly and scientific meeting about HIV in Quezon City on Friday.
The ASP is an association of professionals and advocates in the private and government sector helping curb the spread of HIV and AIDS in the country.
New HIV cases
The Department of Health has recorded 1,350 new HIV cases and 66 AIDS cases from January to August this year alone, bringing the total number of cases to 7,431 since 1984.
Out of the 1,416 HIV cases, 97 percent were infected through sexual contact and majority were males who had sex with other males.
Melgar began her study in 2009, interviewing 650 workers, aged 18 to 29, in Metro Manila and 330 workers in Laguna. She conducted 10 focus group discussions and 15 interviews in support of the study last year.
The study also showed that more men initiate meet-ups through text messaging, Internet chat rooms and social networking sites than women.
At least 47 percent of the 334 male respondents in the capital said they use text messaging to arrange get-togethers while 39 percent preferred chat rooms.
Only 25 percent of the 316 female respondents in Metro Manila said they use their mobile phones to initiate a meet-up while 14.6 percent said they do that through chat rooms.
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