November 29, 2023

■  Jane B. Cadalig 

The survey done on the knowledge, attitudes, and behavior of Cordillera women on human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) last year showed both promising and challenging results.

The awareness of Cordillera women on HIV is high, among those in the older age bracket, but low among those in the lower age group.

Results of the 2022 National Health Demographic Survey (NDHS) conducted by the Philippine Statistics Authority among 27,821 Cordillera women aged 15 to 49 years old showed that 93.2 percent have knowledge of HIV.

Among the younger bracket, however, or the 15 to 24 years old, the results showed only one in three or 32.2 percent has an in-depth knowledge of HIV.

While the young Cordillera women’s knowledge on HIV showed a low percentage, their knowledge on HIV transmission showed a promising result.

When prompted to some questions on how they perceive a person living with HIV, PSA-Cordillera Chief Statistical Specialist Aldrin Bahit said the results showed four in five or 80 percent of the young women believe that a healthy-looking person can have HIV, negating the misconception that HIV can be identified based on appearance alone.

The same results showed three in four or 74 percent believe that HIV cannot be transmitted by mosquito bites, which the PSA said demonstrates a good level of knowledge regarding the modes of HIV transmission.

Two in three also believe that a person cannot get HIV by sharing food with a person living with HIV.

The survey also showed about 66.9 percent reported using a condom every time they have sex, indicating a positive trend in practicing safe sex knowledge using methods to reduce the risk of HIV transmission.

In terms of HIV testing status, however, the survey showed 92.4 percent of Cordilleran women 15 to 49 years had never undergone testing.

Of those who had undergone HIV testing, 6.9 percent said they received the outcomes of their last HIV test.

The survey on the knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors on HIV is one of the components of the 2022 NDHS, a survey designed to promote information on population, fertility, family planning, marriage, child health, child survival, child discipline, and early childhood and development, HIV/AIDS and other sexually-transmitted infections, reproductive health, nutrition, gender issues, and tobacco and alcohol use.

The survey was conducted from May to June last year.

Bahit said the NDHS is one of the strategies done to improve the current health systems, making way for the coordinated planning services, equitable services to health care services, and sustain financing for local health interventions.

“The conduct of the NDHS is in recognition of the health sector is one of the sectors that contribute to the acceleration of the country’s economic progress. Remember that if the citizens are not healthy, the economy is not going to be healthy as well,” he said.