Monday, September 26, 2011

Assessing Your Risk

Answer the following questions below. If you answer yes in any one below, then you might have a risk of getting HIV or any sexually transmitted infection (STI).

1. Do I engage in unprotected sexual intercourse with more than one partner?
2. Does my partner have multiple sexual partners?
3. Do I or my partner have signs or symptoms referring to a possible STI?
4. Do I engage in drug use, sharing of needles or syringes?
5. Does my partner engage in drug use, sharing of needles or syringes?
6. Have I or my partner undergone any blood transfusion/organ transplant?

Sunday, September 25, 2011

"Use condoms to prevent spread of HIV." - Pope Benedict XVI

Pope Benedict XVI said men and women can use condoms to prevent the spread of HIV.

Pope Benedict has clarified his recent landmark statement — that the use of condoms is sometimes morally justifiable to stop the spread of AIDS — by saying that the declaration was meant to cover women and transsexuals, and not just men.

The acknowledgement is being seen as a major shift in church policy. The Vatican has said for decades that condoms were not part of the answer to fighting AIDS.

The Vatican now says using a condom is a less evil than transmitting HIV to a sexual partner even it means a woman could avoid a possible pregnancy.

Read more.

Friday, September 23, 2011

TV Guesting: Sapul Sa Singko (Sept. 23, 2011)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Photoshoot for a Cause

What: The Love Yourself Charity Photoshoot (Part 2!)
When: September 24, 2011 - Saturday - 12nn-10pm
Where: The Room, G/F Crowne 88 Condominium, #88 Panay Ave., Barangay South Triangle, Quezon City.
Registration link:

It's the much-awaited follow-up to the explosively successful first charity photoshoot for The Love Yourself Project by Ian Felix Alquiros. This Saturday na, and it's open to all -- girls, boys, men, women, gays, lesbians, transgenders, or whatever label you use. Tara na! It's fun, and at the same time, you help the provision of free assistance, counseling, and education to the youth and key population affected by HIV/AIDS in the Philippines. Photoshoot for a cause ito. Wanna join? REGISTER HERE! Read on for details.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Be a Peer Educator for the Love Yourself Project!

We are announcing the availability of volunteer opportunities as Peer Educator for the Love Yourself Project (TLYP). Requirements are as follows:
  1. The heart to help: all TLYP volunteers have the genuine heart to help, regardless of personal benefit or remuneration.
  2. Actual experience or observable potential for skill acquisition related to teaching, facilitating, or training.
  3. Commitment to being part of the Peer Educator Pool for at least 1 year.
If you are interested, we would like to invite you to register as a potential Peer Educator here.

Registration ends September 30, 2011, or when all slots are filled up, whichever comes earlier.

Selected candidates will undergo a 3-day Peer Educator workshop on October 8, 9, and 15, 2011. Below is the brief description of the workshop. Details will be sent to selected candidates.

A Peer Educator is first and foremost a peer -- he is the same and equal with his audience. As such, he is able to easily relate to his audience╩╝s specific circumstances, to intimately understand their challenges, and therefore more effectively facilitate not only learning but, more importantly, the application of such learning. In short, a peer educator is a very effective instrument to inspire, initiate and encourage behavior change among members of his audience. This workshop enables one to be a Peer Educator. In this workshop, one learns the following: (1) the fundamental body of knowledge on the topic of STIs and HIV/AIDS; (2) issues faced by people who are most at risk to be affected by HIV/AIDS ; (3) facilitation and teaching skills to effectively deliver a learning session among peers. A critical goal of this workshop is to raise the self-awareness of its attendees so as to rid themselves of prejudices that stand in the way of being a true peer to his audience.

Monday, September 12, 2011

911: An HIV Confidential Counseling and Testing Event

Event organizers and volunteers posing for a souvenir photo
after a whole day of work -- tired but happy!

QUEZON CITY, PHILIPPINES -- On September 11, 2011 the Love Yourself (VINN Advocacy) group, a not-for-profit organization focused on HIV prevention among the youth and LGBT-MSM (Men who have Sex with Men), in association with Quezon City Health Department (QCHD), held their 2nd quarter advocacy project, “911: An HIV Confidential Counseling and Testing Event” at 35 West Avenue, Quezon City. The event was undertaken together with volunteers from Quezon City Health Department (QCHD),  Take The Test, AIDS Society of the Philippines and representatives from SaMACKA. The event was able to serve a total of 89 clients from 10am to 6pm on that day. 

The program promoted voluntary testing option to the 89 clients, and all of them signed the informed consent form to take the HIV Confidential Counseling and Testing. Of the 89 clients that were counseled and tested, 81 were male, 4  were female, and 4 were transgender. The 89 individuals ranged from 18 to 48 years old. 

As per DOH protocol, during the post-test counseling and release of the rapid HIV test result, all the clients were given instructions:

The blood samples of the clients that turned out to be reactive will be sent to National Reference Laboratory-STD AIDS Cooperative Central Laboratory / San Lazaro Hospital to undergo an HIV confirmatory test. The Quezon City Health Department (QCHD) will contact the client after two weeks and the results will be given. If confirmed positive, the client will undergo further laboratory tests, most importantly the CD4 level to determine the need for administration of anti-retroviral drugs.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Free HIV Confidential Counseling and Testing on Sunday, 9/11

What: HIV Confidential Counseling and Testing - it's FREE! No charge!
When: Sunday, 11 September 2011 (10am to 5pm)
Where: Playroom - 35 West Avenue, Quezon City
Location Map:

How to get there:

From EDSA via MRT: alight at the North Edsa station. Take a jeepney towards the direction of Quiapo (via West Avenue). The venue will be on your right, about 2-3 km from SM North Edsa/Trinoma. It's along West Avenue, just before Mister Kebab.

From EDSA via bus: alight at the corner of Edsa and West Avenue. Take a jeepney towards the direction of Quiapo (via West Avenue). The venue will be on your right, about 2-3 km from SM North Edsa/Trinoma. It's along West Avenue, just before Mister Kebab.

From Espana or Quezon Avenue (Banawe, Sto. Domingo, Pantranco, etc.): take an FX or jeepney towards SM North/Trinoma. When you reach West Avenue, you will see Kowloon House West on your right, and very soon after, Mister Kabab on your left. The venue is on the side of Mister Kabab, the 2nd building after.

(The venue is inside a discreet building complex between Quezon Avenue and Del Monte Avenue. Between the restaurants 'Mister Kebab' and 'Mang Inasal'. The front of the building complex has establishments such as 'Slice n' Dice' and 'Don Esteban'.)

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

A viral kind of love

Manila Bulletin, September 6, 2011. Wellness Section, Page C5.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Groupon Philippines Lends Online Platform To Support HIV Awareness

Inaugural G-Team "Deal" signed with The Love Yourself Project  and Frenzy condoms

MANILA-- Groupon Philippines ( will feature an unprecedented online deal on September 11, 2011 to support The Love Yourself Project, which aims to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS in the Philippines through education and counseling.

The deal, which will go live on 9/11, will raise the ‘9-1-1’ emergency signal on the staggering rise of HIV cases in the Philippines. According to a July report from the Department of Health -National Epidemiology Center, the Philippines is in the brink of an epidemic-level spread of HIV. July 2011 registered 204 newly-diagnosed HIV cases, the highest logged in a single month, and a 56% increase compared to the same period last year. The Philippines is 1 of only 7 countries worldwide where HIV cases are increasing.
The deal will allow anyone with internet access to donate to the cause either through a P100 cash donation, a P400 donation which comes with a free Love Yourself t-shirt, and a P1000 donation that entitles Groupon holders to the Love Yourself photoshoot on September 24, complete with a pre-shoot styling session and a free Love Yourself t-shirt. The deal will run from September 11 and end on September 13.

Frenzy condoms also agreed to match each Groupon sold with an in-kind donation of condoms, which will be distributed during The Love Yourself Project’s various outreach, testing and counseling sessions.

The deal is Groupon’s inaugural G-Team deal outside North America. Groupon was born out of collective action and fundraising platform The Point in 2008, and later channeled its philanthropic roots into the launch of G-Team. While Groupon enables shoppers to discover the best their city has to offer, G-Team further connects consumers to their cities by spotlighting local organizations. Facilitating support through the collective action-by-tipping point model that Groupon pioneered, G-Team campaigns are designed around an organization’s specific need, like fundraising to create school supply kits, but only ‘go live’ if a certain number of people agree to participate. There is no cost for mission-driven organizations to participate in G-Team and all proceeds directly benefit the featured cause. This innovative approach to fundraising has raised more than PhP12M for various organizations.

"We are excited to employ the ‘people power’ model of Groupon’s G-Team to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS in the Philippines," said Ronivin Garcia Pagtakhan, CEO/President of The Love Yourself Project. "We are honored to be the first organization featured by The G-Team in the Philippines."

To avail of this deal, just log on to at 12 noon on September 11, 20011, and follow the instructions. While there is no cap for the P100 donation, quantities are limited for the t-shirts and photoshoot sessions.

About Groupon
Groupon, launched in November 2008 in Chicago, features a daily deal on the best stuff to do, eat, see and buy in 45 countries around the world. Groupon uses collective buying power to offer huge discounts and provide a win-win for business and consumers, delivering more than 1,000 daily deals globally. To subscribe for the best deals in your city, visit

About The Love Yourself Project
The Love Yourself Project aims to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS among the youth and key affected population in the Philippines, primarily through education and counseling. It is the first project by the VINN Advocacy group, which was founded by Twitter Shorty Awards Nurse of The Year Awardee Ronivin (Vinn) Garcia Pagtakhan. The Love Yourself Project is supported by popular TV personality Boy Abunda (United Nations Population Fund spokesperson), Rep. Rissa Hontiveros (Akbayan), and actors Paulo Avelino and Rocco Nacino.

What to expect when you go for HIV testing

Since we're having a free HIV confidential counseling and testing event on my birthday, September 11, I'd like to give you a primer on what to expect when you go for a proper HIV testing process.

Step One: The Form. When you arrive at the testing venue, you will be asked to fill out a form. The form is shown below.

Most people's first question is -- should I reveal my real identity? The official answer is YES, because all information written in this form will be handled in strict confidence. My personal, non-official answer is this: it is up to you. When you fill out this form, the name you write will not be cross-checked with any other identification documents (passport, IDs, etc.) This means, whatever name you write in this form is taken as is. If you so decide to put an alias or fake name, just be sure you remember it so there is no confusion during the time you are given your results later on.

Regarding other demographic-related questions in the form -- here are some of my personal thoughts:

Permanent Address/mailing address: not important, you may specify only your area and city, e.g. Sampaloc, Manila; or South Triangle, Quezon City.
Contact Number: VERY IMPORTANT, please specify here your personal mobile number that you use most often. This is critical because it will be used in case there is an urgent need to give you important information regarding the results of your test.
Other demographic information (birthday, sex, age, etc.): fairly important, used for statistics keeping of the DOH -- I suggest you put your real information here just to help the DOH-NEC to capture accurate statistics. These information will not be used to identify you.

For the rest of the form (employment history, travel history, history of HIV test, etc.), you may or may not be asked to fill these all out. A counselor may help fill this out with you during the next step of the process. The information you give here will be used to assess your risk, which will help your counselor in providing life-saving information and recommendations appropriate and customized to you and your situation. I recommend that you be "honest-to-the-bone" when you answer these questions, as this will directly impact the recommendations that will be given you for your own well-being.

Step Two: The Pre-Test Counseling. After filling out the form, you may be asked to wait for a little bit, depending on the number of people who have come to the testing venue ahead of you. When it is your turn, a friendly HIV counselor will approach you and lead you to a private area for a one-on-one counseling session. The counselor will look at the form you have filled out and will help you complete it. He or she will also, in the most sensitive, friendly but honest and direct way, ask you questions that will help him or her assess your risks in contracting sexually transmitted infections and most specifically HIV. My recommendation: be totally honest. You may share with your counselor how you feel about the situation, perhaps your fears and inhibitions, and he or she will help you to the most of his ability. An HIV counselor is trained to listen and handle such conversations with complete confidentiality and sensitivity. S/he is there to help you.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Free Confidential and Private HIV Testing on 9/11

Have you been thinking of getting tested yet all the places you know are open only during office hours on weekdays? Well, here's a schedule that's on a Sunday! It will be held in a private (not in a government clinic) and discreet location, for your own privacy and convenience.

What: HIV Confidential Counseling and Testing - it's FREE! No charge!
When: Sunday, 11 September 2011 (10am to 5pm)
Where: Playroom - 35 West Avenue, Quezon City

(The venue is inside a discreet building complex between Quezon Avenue and Del Monte Avenue. Between the restaurants 'Mister Kebab' and 'Mang Inasal'. The front of the building complex has establishments such as 'Slice n' Dice' and 'Don Esteban'.)

If you are still dilly-dallying, I suggest you think hard NOW before the free HIV RAPID Test Kits run out. When they do, it will be difficult to find a place that'll do it for free (no charge).

If you think you need someone to talk to, or accompany you through this experience of testing, you may email The Love Yourself Project -- someone is available to help!

Map here:

Larger View? Click to see this in a larger map