In a country where social stigma is still heavily attached to condom access and use, how does one protect one’s self? LoveYourself, in partnership with Save the Children formally introduced Safe Spaces PH on December 22 at Greenbelt 3’s My Cinema in Makati City through an adult education dialogue which tackled the idea of a sustainable condom distribution supply chain that is augmented by technology.
adultED: DIALOGUES IN SAFE SPACES
Dubbed as “adultED: dialogues in Safe Spaces PH”, the Safe Spaces launch was a series of forums which fosters dialogue about sexual health and wellness. Guest speakers include Dr. Miel Mora from Save the Children and Global Fund for HIV Prevention, Noel Palaypayon from Department of Health Epidemiology Bureau, student leader and advocate JB Deang, young professional and advocate Jabar Esmael and Project and Data Manager for PrEP Pilipinas Danvic Rosadiño from LoveYourself.
Safe Spaces PH aims to solve the problem of low number of condom use. Currently, 7 out of 10 of the youth are ashamed to buy condoms, making them vulnerable to HIV and other Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs). To date, the Philippines has the highest rate of increase of newly-diagnosed people living with HIV across the Asia and the Pacific region.
The forum discussed the alarming HIV epidemic in the country and highlighted the various methods in addressing this.
“We believe that if you follow the triangle of self-care, you are proactively managing your sexual health. In turn you are proactively loving yourself,” said John Danvic Rosadiño.
As part of taking care of one’s self, they stressed out the importance of correct and consistent use of condoms and the role one’s family play in his/her choices. In retrospect, the issue of condom availability to everyone has also been brought into discussion.
“For consistent condom use to increase, condoms need to be accessible and available,” Dr. Noel Palaypayon pointed out.
“I always believe that the concept or the discussion on the use of condom, sexual orientation, choices must also start with our own family. We also need to empower the families,” JB Deang added.
INNOVATIVE DISTRIBUTION MODEL
Safe Spaces PH designates areas where people can get access to free condoms with water-based lubricants without embarrassment and judgment. This is made possible by partnering with non-discriminatory and sex-positive establishments that serve as safe spaces or “Depots” where the dispenser for condoms are installed.
Safe Spaces can be anywhere: bars, coffee shops, restaurants, which can be determined by looking for the Safe Spaces logo at the entrance. Thus, giving a holistic solution to the barriers on active utilization of free condoms by the people.
LoveYourself Executive Director Ronivin G. Pagtakhan pointed out that accessibility of condoms with water-based lubricant remains a huge challenge.
“The government offers condoms for free not just as contraceptive, but more importantly as a protection against contracting HIV and STIs. We just have to mobilize its distribution to ensure that we really target and reach the right market or people,” Pagtakhan emphasized.
He added, “A sizable number of condoms procured by the government are largely unknown and untapped by the public, hence sometimes these were put to waste unused.”
In addressing this problem, Dr.Miel Mora stressed, “If we make these safe spaces available (and) accessible, it will be familiar, and everyone will be talking about it, and who knows? We’ll curb the epidemic through condoms.”
SINGLE MOBILE APPLICATION PLATFORM FOR ALL
Safe Spaces PH also entails a heavy digital campaign for smart selling of the Depots and the program at large. Safe Spaces PH comes with a mobile application to provide a quick and convenient service, especially for the key-affected population such as the youth and men-having-sex-with-men. In the application, one may locate the closest Depots and details of the establishments. One may also report how much supply is left so that the condiment station can be restocked.
HELP THE CAUSE AND BECOME A SAFE SPACE
Love Yourself believes that more than access to free condoms and water-based lubes, Safe Spaces PH also provides the experience of being safe and secure. While the initiative continually seeks for new establishments that can serve as depots, the collaboration does not end there.
“As we scale up, we definitely would like to look into places that are public and more accessible also to different social strata,” said Chris Lagman.
Safe Spaces PH also envisions to partner with individuals to help in making condoms accessible to everyone.
Because everybody needs one.
To become part of the movement and become a Safe Space, you may email [email protected]
Text by Geldof Resuello & Ulysses Konstantin Largado
Photos by Chris Lagman & YanYan Araña II