Phone sex: today’s virtual STI clinics

Phone sex: today’s virtual STI clinics
Sex and Sensibilities

In Jolo, Sulu citizen volunteers known as PERVs (Preventing Election – Related Violence Volunteers) text in daily reports of violence or crime.

These reports are collated by the secretariat of the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue (who is spearheading this initiative) and analyzed by a researcher and a security advisor. Depending on their assessment of the situation, the incident may be escalated to the board of eminent persons known as the Tumikang Sama Sama for conflict resolution.

It may seem like a simple set-up, and in many ways it still is. The daily reports for example, are sent to the mobile phone of the person manning the CHD local Secretariat and then manually typed and organized into a Word document.

But before this arrangement, there was no way of monitoring the incidents of escalating violence in the province of Sulu, which is known to many as “Abu Sayaff Land”.  The group of islands is not easily accessible.  Apart from the inherent danger the area is known for, currently, the only way to get there is via an 8 hour ferry ride from Zamboanga.  Movement between and among other islands is also difficult and can only be done by boat, which can take as much as 5-7 hours.

It may be too early to say just how much of an impact the PERVs have made as the CHD started this reporting system only during last May’s national elections, but already there were some clan conflicts that were already averted with the effective mediation of the Tumikang Sama Sama.

This is just one example of the way that mobile technology is helping improve access to real time information – a basic problem with huge ramifications for a developing country like ours, which is made up of 7,100++ islands.

I bring this up because a similar mobile platform model is now being used to create what is known as a virtual STI Clinic.

At the Women Deliver Philippines Conference last Sept 15-17, this was discussed by Wei Siang Yu, also known locally in Singapore as Dr. Love.

An offshoot  of the women Deliver global conference in Washington, D.C. last June which I also attended, I chaired the Youth Congress where Dr. Wei was also a speaker.

Dr. Wei founded a website called www.sexxie.tv, which has an interactive interface via mobile that allows the reader to communicate with doctors and health care professionals to get information about sexual health and even love and relationships.

There is also a virtual STI Clinic where they can take a picture of the problem area on their phone camera and send it in via MMS so the doctor can give a provisional diagnosis. It would not replace a clinical or prescriptive diagnosis, but it will serve as an indication for the person to seek additional medical advice, if needed. More importantly, it allows a person to consult a health care professional immediately without being hindered by feelings of shame and embarrassment.

Here we can see how mobile phone technology is being used as an enabler and quite effectively being used as a platform to give someone the anonymity and privacy needed when consulting or talking about a delicate topic like an STI.

In a country where giving out condoms is labeled as “vulgar and gross” and even the act of buying condoms is enough for the cashier to pass judgment on your character, the anonymity of a mobile consultation not only means privacy; it also means non-judgment and the protection of one’s dignity and human right to get access to accurate and frank sexual health information.

In many situations, accurate information in a timely fashion can prove to be life-saving. In Sulu, it can prevent escalation of clan violence and displacement of many innocent people who may be caught in the crossfire. And in the case of sexual health, access to accurate information in a discrete manner can help overcome prejudice and discrimination that override our basic human right to take care of our bodies. The end benefit of this information is also potentially life-saving . STIs, if left untreated, can result in infertility and the early detection of an HIV infection makes  a huge difference in maintaining one’s quality of life.

Until the time comes when we can enjoy the benefits of “virtual sex” (for those born in the same era, there was Sylvester Stallone and Sandra Bullock futuristic movie where sexual intercourse was only done virtually to prevent, as Sandra put it: “the unhygienic transmission of bodily fluids”) and be protected from STIs and unintended pregnancies, sexual health information via mobile phone should be explored to  give us another reason to advocate  and promote a new kind of “phone sex”.

The ProPinoy Project

  • Sidarxxx

    “the only way to get there is via an 8 hour ferry ride from Zamboanga”. Just want to correct the information, Air Philippines Express started their daily trip Zamboanga-Jolo and Jolo-Zamboanga this September 2010, that is why Jolo is not only accessible by ferry, because at the present air travel is now possible and it will only take you 30 minutes from Zamboanga to reach Jolo.

    Sulu is not Land of Abu Sayyaf…