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PIA Press Release
2009/06/26

Study: Low HIV prevalence among Boholano seafarers

Tagbilaran City (26 June) -- Prevalence of Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV) among Boholanos seafarers is low, but their continued exposure to with high-risk behaviors has alarmed a survey group from the University of the Philippines College of Public Health.

Dr. Ofelia Saniel, principal investigator for the Joint Program on HIV and migration Baseline Research among Boholano Overseas Foreign Workers explained that at below 1% HIV prevalence in 250 seafarer respondents, monitoring of high risk behaviors may be enough at this point in Bohol.

She however said that their study revealed sea-based and land based OFWs practice high risk behaviors such as having multiple sex partners, unprotected sex and engaging in commercial sex.

Their research key findings also reasoned out that the OFWS vulnerability may be caused by feelings homesickness and with extra money, this allows binge drinking, night clubbing, drugs use and commercial sex activities.

The condition is even more complicated by misconceptions on their personal risk of HIV, the emerging double standards in sexual behaviors and minimal risk awareness campaigns, the study bared.

In a presentation to Bohol key authorities June 26 at the Bohjol Tropics, especially to the Provincial HIV AIDS Multi-Sectoral Council, members support the key recommendations by the study group.

The council agrees that HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STI) should be integrated in the curriculum of maritime schools to dispel the problem of lack of awareness on the risks.

Moreover, the council also believes that a separate program should address the need to improve the knowledge of OFWs about the risks, correct the misconceptions and putting up of support programs for OFWs and their families.

For Batuan, Vice Mayor Leo Leyson suggested institutionalizing HIV awareness for pre-departing and post arriving OFWs at the level of the towns, preferably at the Public Employment Service Offices (PESO). (PIA) [top]

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