Monday, November 07, 2011

The Love Yourself Project Launches Assistance Program for People Newly Diagnosed With HIV

Ian Felix Alquiros, TLY Director of Education
and Counseling, explains the program details 
during the launch and press conference.
Pasig City, November 6, 2011 -- Love Yourself, a group of volunteer educators and counselors, together with the Mr. Gay World Organization and Ladlad Partylist, launched today the LAB (Laboratory Assistance Benefit) initiative, a new program to help people who are newly diagnosed with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). The LAB initiative provides financial assistance specifically to pay for baseline laboratory tests that are required to initiate the lifelong treatment process for People Living with HIV (PLHIV).

According to the National Epidemiology Center of the Department of Health, the number of HIV cases in the Philippines continue to increase with unprecedented rates, now at 8 new confirmed cases per day. A critical strategy in decelerating the spread of HIV is to ensure that those who are diagnosed positive are immediately provided with appropriate treatment and care. One roadblock to treatment that HIV counselors have seen especially among the very young, newly diagnosed PLHIV is the lack of funds for their initial baseline laboratory tests.

“This one-time financial assistance may be considered small, but it can potentially save lives,” says Ian Felix Alquiros, Director of Education and Counseling for Love Yourself. The baseline laboratory tests are crucial in assessing the health of the newly diagnosed PLHIV. The tests give the health provider critical data used in determining initial treatment recommendations, and as such, can be considered the PLHIVʼs gateway to treatment. Many of these treatments and medicines can be accessed for free (e.g., anti-TB medicines, anti-retroviral drugs), provided that the PLHIV has undertaken the required baseline laboratory tests.

The LAB Initiative, together with the guidance from trained HIV counselors and educators of Love Yourself, enable and encourage newly diagnosed PLHIVs that are otherwise financially unable, to seek treatment, care, and support. The first three recipients of the assistance are PLHIV endorsed by Ladlad and volunteer HIV counselors of Love Yourself.

The Mr. Gay World Organization under its Red Ribbon Campaign is the first major sponsor for the LAB initiative.