CEBU, Philippines – A health official said call center agents have a higher risk of acquiring Human Immuno Virus-Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (HIV-AIDS).
Dr. Crisol Tabajero, Health Information and Research Coordinator of the DOH Region 7 said in forum yesterday that because of their environment and peer pressure, call center agents tend to involve in risky sexual behaviors.
She said that basing on a study conducted by the University of the Philippines Population Institute and the Department of Health, the result of the study is alarming but it is not surprising.
It was found that more call center workers have early penetrative premarital sex and have had sex with the same sex.
Twenty percent of male call center agents are commercial sex workers while 14 percent of them give payment in exchange for sex.
More call center workers have had casual sex experience and half of the male call center workers and one out of nine female call center agents have had casual sex experience.
It also revealed that there are more call center agents who have a regular non-romantic sexual partner with more males than females engaging with it.
The study revealed that in the past 12 months, regardless of gender, nearly one-third of male of call center agents had casual sex.
The study entitled “Lifestyle and Reproductive Health Issues of Young professionals in Metro Manila and Metro Cebu was conducted to examine the economic, social, and health status of young professionals less than 35 years old working at call centers and non call centers.
The 929 respondents come from 35 Business Processing Outsourcing establishments, who have at least completed two years in college.
In Cebu alone, there were 241 respondents who came from seven companies.
Slightly more call center agents are single and both groups mostly live with their siblings and parents.
The result showed that among those who are married or living-in, one fourth of them has had extramarital sex.
Among those who had sex in the past 12 months, more male call center agents had another male as sexual partner and nearly half of the males had more than one sexual partner.
There are more female call center workers have ever talked with their partners about HIV prevention and only one in nine feel that they are at risk of HIV infection.
The Freeman tried to ask for comments from officials of BPO companies in Metro Cebu, but they refused to issue statements.
Dr. Josefina Natividad of UP Population Institute emphasized that the study followed a cross sectional trend which was done “one point in time” which, as she emphasized the study did not specifically examine the timing of occurrence of sexual risky events.
She said that it is not safe to conclude that the higher prevalence of sexual risk behaviors among call center workers can be attributed to working in the call center.
Dr. Grace Cruz, director of UPPI said that there could be a selection bias of the outcome of the study because those who enter call center work already exhibit high risk sexual behavior and there is apparent evidence that these behaviors are now highly prevalent in the age group.
Of the risky sexual practices, fewer call centers agents in Cebu experienced oral sex, anal sex among males, sex with the same sex, casual sex with the same sex among males, early sex, and penetrative early sex compared to call center workers in National Capital Region.
The study, however, showed that non call center workers have higher cases of painful urination while call center workers have higher cases of low libido or sex drive.
Male call center agents have more cases in genital itching compared to non call center workers. Both groups have tied in penile discharge.
There is also a very high awareness of sexually transmitted infections and HIV-AIDS and only a very few personally knew someone who has HIV for both groups.
Overall, the study showed that there is a low proportion of workers who had been tested for HIV. Among those who had been tested for HIV, more call center agents voluntarily underwent HIV testing.
The study included reports that more call center agents currently smoke than non call center workers. There is also a high level of drinking alcoholic among workers with 85 percent for call centers and 87 percent for non call centers agents.
It also recorded that 11 percent of call center workers used prohibited drugs or substances in the past six months.
The most common type of substance used is marijuana, followed by shabu. More Cebu call center workers ever tried using shabu.
Regardless of sex, Cebu call center agents earn less than NCR counterpart but earn more than non-call center workers in NCR.
On the average, Cebu call center agents started drinking at a later age than NCR workers. They also consume at least three to four shots per drinking session.
More call center workers in Cebu go to videoke or karaoke but only a few of them go malling and shopping than in call center agents in NCR.
Tabajero, on her part said that the results of the study need to be interpreted so that it would guide DOH, the local government units, and BPO companies in addressing the risky behaviors of both call center and non call center workers. — /NLQ (FREEMAN NEWS)