In the past, HIV/AIDS has been confined to sex workers, drug addicts and gays. That is no longer true today. Recent hospital reports show that the surge in HIV/AIDS cases in the past 10 months included reports from young professionals, notably call center agents.
It is no secret that in the past years, call center (or BPO) centers have mushroomed in the country, not only in the Metro but also in far-flung provinces. With the recession the US is facing, multinational companies began outsourcing their customer services to Third World Countries where the cost of labor is cheaper. Our government, in its desire to provide more jobs for the unemployed, jumped at the opportunity despite the many health risks posed by this new industry.
If before the health risks associated with the call center industry were merely hypotension (low blood pressure), anemia, unorthodox sleep schedules, ruined bioclocks, lung cancer (if you keep smoking too much) and cirrhosis (if you keep drinking too much), now another risk has been associated to the industry – HIV/AIDS. Well, of course, if you engage in unprotected sex.
But the acceptance of casual sex within the industry is something that is quite alarming. It has been reported that FUBU (or F*cking Buddies) have become a common trend and people engage in unromantic, casual sex especially when in the night shift. Just how casual sex is related to the work involved, I cannot fathom. Could it be that the toxicity or the stress of the work involved had led call center agents to detoxify or de-stress themselves through sex – casual, uncommitted sex? Or could it be the lack of sufficient sex education – on what is sex all about, that has led them to view sex as something as casual as changing clothes? Or maybe, the influences of the West has finally fully manifested itself on our shores that we even share not just their preferences for fast foods, credit cards, and way of clothing but also their casual views on sex? There are too many questions left unanswered.
But what all of this tells us is that, sex has become something common place in our society. It has become prevalent. The need to keep it safe must become a top priority health concern of the government. Unless we want the label of the only Christian nation in SouthEast Asia with the highest AIDS/HIV incidence.
It is time the Church opens its eyes and ears to the reality that sex is as commonplace in the country as drinking and smoking is. This is no longer the time to mince words or operate in subtle meanings. It is time the government takes action – solid and concrete actions; not just plans or empty words. The need for education, on what sex is all about, should be now. People should be informed on all accounts so they could make intelligent decisions.
And the place to begin would no doubt be, not just the schools, but the call center companies as well. Of course, this does not imply that the only recent cases of HIV/AIDS are call center agents. There are other alarming new additions to the traditional list of people at high risk of HIV/AIDS but the most glaring additions are call center agents who are young and educated professionals.