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Rise in HIV/AIDS cases in Philippines Alarming Special

By Antonio Figueroa     Jan 30, 2010 in Business
MANILA – Former Labor Undersecretary Susan Ople has urged the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) and the leaders of the call center industry to pursue awareness campaigns in workplaces to stem the rise of HIV/AIDS in the Philippines.
Ople, a Senate bet in the May 2010 elections, cited the yet-unpublished study conducted by the University of the Philippines (UP) Population Institute, which noted that in the past 10 months there was a dramatic increase in the number of young urban professionals affected by HIV/AIDS.
The study, with 675 respondents from 22 call centers in Metro Manila and Metro Cebu, showed a significant number of call center workers has contracted diseases through non-romantic but regular sexual engagements known in the industry as FUBU, short for ‘F**ked Buddies.’
F’K Buddies (FUBU), the study showed, is a recent phenomenon that involves consensual sexual intercourse among call center workers done at fire exit areas or in dark lounges.
"I validated the results of this survey with several call center agents,” Ople said, “and they told me that FUBU is gaining ground especially among nightshift workers."
To address the problem, she cited the need to introduce values enhancement services and activities in the call center industry.
Official records at the Department of Health (DOH) showed the number of HIV cases rose to 709 in 2009, compared to the 528 recorded the previous year.
Citing Dr. Edsel Salvana of the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) Infectious Disease Treatment Complex, Ople said 80 of the HIV cases documented were recorded for November 2009 alone, most of them “well educated.”
She said DoLE should consider seriously the results of the UP study, saying that “certain ethical standards” should be put in place, warning that the absence of appropriate “safeguards against sexual promiscuity in the workplace… could lead to emotional stress, sexually transmitted diseases and even broken marriages.”
"Nothing beats raising professional and ethical standards to promote decency and productivity in the workplace. This is something that the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry leaders should work on jointly with DOLE," she added.
The study, in order to contain the HIV/AIDS trend, suggested the removal of unisex facilities that could be used for sexual trysts, the strict monitoring of office decorum, a 24/7 in-house counseling service for emotionally distressed workers, implementing of rules and sanctions against any form of sexual encounters, and the installation of video facilities in the workplace.
Moreover, the research, which was done between September and November 2009, reported that three out of four call center workers and two out of three non-call center workers polled have had “penetrative premarital sex.”
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