Abstinence or Chastity Education and the Prevention of HIV/AIDS

Image: Katy Duclos

My friend AJ posted this:

My other friend Dr. Ryan Borja Capitulo (an OB-Gyn) commented this:

Here’s what’s going on.

The studies that say abstinence education does not work, if you look more closely, are usually funded/controlled/conducted by those who DO NOT WANT abstinence education taught in schools. So doon pa lang, meron nang confirmation bias. Kapag nakakita ka ng study saying abstinence education doesn’t work, consider the source.

Eto ang tanong d’yan eh. DOES ***ABSTINENCE*** WORK OR NOT IN THE PREVENTION OF HIV/AIDS?

And the answer is: OF COURSE IT DOES!

Kung walang sex between someone who has HIV and someone who doesn’t, WALANG magiging transmission.

I-set aside n’yo muna ‘yang mga “studies” about the spread of HIV via non-sexual means, okey. Like the usual anti-abstinence studies, it takes a narrative and finds “facts” to support it. Saan ba nanggagaling ang pinakamataas na prevalence ng HIV transmission? Male-to-male sex, aka MSM, or Men Having Sex with other Men. Hindi natin ito maipagkakaila kasi SILA ang nag-conduct ng studies na ‘yan, hindi tayong mga “religious fundamentalist”. In other words, THEY KNOW THIS.

Image: Excerpt from report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Ang kaibahan, ‘yung approach. AYAW marinig ng may gusto ng MSM na “Masama ‘yan sa inyo. Itigil n’yo ‘yan.” S’yempre! Sino ba naman ang gustong makarinig n’yan? Natural human reaction. So ang gusto lang nilang solution instead na “Stop that behavior” is “Give us condoms”. May iba pa nga d’yan “Give us lubrication”… I’m not going to mention names. But that doesn’t change the facts: higher MSM rates, higher HIV rates. Proven na ‘yan across the board, globally. Hindi ‘yan imbento.

Now let’s get back to the topic of EDUCATION.

Is abstinence EDUCATION effective?

The answer is a bit more involved. Ang abstinence education, mahirap ituro kasi karamihan ng mga tao ayaw masasabihan na “Don’t do that”. They see that as pakikialam, pagmamarunong, etc., even if it comes from someone who is genuinely concerned about their health. Lalung-lalo nang mahirap tanggapin kung religious pa ang nagmamalasakit, i.e., sabihan ka ba naman ng “You’re endangering your salvation.” Di ba?

So ang problema dito is not that the abstinence MESSAGE itself is ineffective, it’s that the RECIPIENTS are often not open to hearing this message. And let’s face it, madalas ‘yun ding messenger ang mali (aminin, mea culpa). Pero in a culture where pornography plays a major role, hindi na ‘yan nakakagulat. Kasi people have come to believe that sex is a need na hindi mapipigilan ninuman. It has become an addiction. (Ang masama d’yan ang daming bata na nagiging biktima ng sex trafficking. Nakaka-depress. But that’s another topic for another day.) Newsflash, people: wala pang namatay EVER from not having sex.

Kailangan kasi ng moral foundation ng tao para maging receptive sa mga ganyang turo. Kahit sino sa ‘tin, may pride. We don’t like hearing that we’re doing something wrong. Masakit eh. And if we become truly honest with ourselves, kung tanggapin natin ang mensahe na may mali tayong ginagawa, mapipilitan tayo… TO CHANGE. And no one wants to change. Again, natural human reaction.

So ano ang sagot? Well, #1 ang abstinence education kasi usually one-dimensional eh, with the primary message being “Don’t do that.” Kung ‘yan lang ang message natin, KULANG TALAGA.

What we really need to teach, to those who are willing to listen, is CHASTITY EDUCATION. Why? Chastity education is for EVERYONE. Mga parents, dapat tinuturo ‘yan sa mga anak. Sexual purity is for everyone, bata, matanda, babae, lalaki, may asawa, single. It’s about seeing sex as God designed it: within marriage, for procreation. So anything na labag d’yan, not just homosexual behavior, doesn’t lead to the good of the individual. And it’s not just about the sexual act either. Chastity begins in the mind, in the heart.

Kung tao kang nagmamahal, you would keep yourself chaste para sa minamahal mo, whether you’re married, single, homosexual, heterosexual, young, old.

But ‘yun nga, for this message to be acceptable, we need to work on MORAL FOUNDATIONS. ‘Yan ang malaking challenge natin. Hindi madali, hindi mangyayari overnight. It involves changing people’s HEARTS. And the only way to change people’s hearts? RELATIONSHIP.

This is why we need to keep working on CULTURE. Kita n’yo ang nangyayari ngayon sa US with all the sexual harassment cases. Kasama ‘yan — kung ang culture sex-addicted, lalabas at lalabas ‘yan sa buhay ng mga tao. Again, awareness is a good thing, pero kung titigil lang tayo sa awareness, wala rin.

Bring back a culture where sex is sacred, and where marriage and family are #1, and we will be restoring health as well. Bring back families where kids and parents value each other and listen to each other, and you’ll see changes for the positive. Bring back traditional morality, and you bring down the cases of HIV. ‘Yang pa-testing-testing na ‘yan, is a BAND-AID solution. Note that I’m not saying it’s a bad thing — it’s not. And it’s essential — sa panahon ngayon, kung plano mo makipag-sex at hindi kayo virgin/chaste, mas mabuti nang alam mo ang test results kesa hindi. Pero ‘yun nga, ultimately it is not the best answer. Sa maniwala ka’t sa hindi.

P.S. Gusto n’yo ng no holds barred Chastity Education? Theology of the Body is your answer. And keep praying.

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