Friday, December 30, 2011

New Year's Resolution: HIV Testing

If you are thinking of starting the year by conquering your fear, taking care of yourself, loving yourself -- here's a great first step. Good news is that we're here to help! Click here!

We can still reverse this trend.

With 212 new HIV Ab sero-positive individuals confirmed by the STD/AIDS Cooperative Central Laboratory (SACCL) in November 2011, the Philippines for the first time has breached the 2,000-mark in terms of its annual numbers. Only two years ago, in 2009, we were at a sub-1,000 mark.

We enjoin everyone to help as we, in Love Yourself, firmly believe that this outrageous growth rate can be arrested and reversed. We are doing our share, and we need everyone's help. Do you want to help? Register here.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Love Yourself and QCHD conduct free HIV counseling and testing

Volunteer HIV educators and counselors take a break
after a long day of work on Dec. 11, 2011. [Photo by: Ura Sevilla]

ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHT individuals, after learning about it through social networking sites, blogs, and Facebook, voluntarily came to a special HIV Counseling and Testing (HCT) event organized by the Love Yourself (VINN Advocacy) Group on December 11, 2011. The event was held in a private facility in West Avenue, Quezon City, in partnership with the Quezon City Health Department (QCHD).

The program provided an intensive STI and HIV/AIDS education session to all attendees. For those who signed the informed consent for testing, the mandated pre-test and post-test counseling were also done. A total of twenty-six (26) volunteer HIV counselors (trained and certified by the Department of Health), and HIV educators (trained by certified trainers of the Philippine National AIDS Council) helped in ensuring that the education and counseling were done according to set protocol.

The 108 HIV Ab test clients’ age ranged from 18 to 46 years. Out of the 108 clients, 99 were male and  9 were female.

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

The blood samples of the clients that turned out reactive shall be sent to the National Reference Laboratory-STD AIDS Cooperative Central Laboratory / San Lazaro Hospital to undergo the confirmatory test. The 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. For all others that received non-reactive results for the test, they were reminded to consistently use the recommended HIV prevention practices, and take the voluntary HCT again after three to six months.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Free HIV Counseling and Testing on December 11

Ano: HIV Confidential Counseling and Testing – it’s FREE! Walang bayad!
Kailan: Sunday, 11 December 2011 (10am to 4pm)
Saan: Playroom – 35 West Avenue, Quezon City

Mga malimit na itanong:
1. Natatakot akong magpa-test. Anong gagawin ko?
Normal na kabahan o matakot ang mga taong nagpapa-HIV test. Kung hindi ka pa talaga ready, okay lang. Mayroon mga trained HIV educators at counselors doon sa event, at maaari mo silang i-konsulta. Hindi ka nila pipiliting magpa-test kung talagang ayaw mo. 
2. Magkano ang bayad para makasali dito?
Ang HIV counseling ay walang bayad, libre. Gayun din ang HIV testing, free of charge din. Kung mas nakaluluwag ka naman sa pera at gusto mong tumulong, taos pusong tatanggapin ng Love Yourself ang inyong donasyon, kahit magkano man.
3. Anong dapat kong dalhin?
Dalhin lamang ang sarili. Hindi ka hihingan ng anuman, kahit pa ng ID.
4. Blood test ito, kailangan ba akong mag-fasting?
Hindi kailangan mag-fasting. Walang bawal kainin o inumin bago magpa-test -- hindi ito makaka-apekto sa HIV test.
5. First time ko itong magpa-test. Ano ba ang mangyayari doon?
Napakabuti ng iyong desisyong magpa-test. Basahin ang sumusunod bilang gabay: What to expect during your HIV test.
6. Ako ay isang babae, tunay na babae. Puwede ba ako magpa-test?
Oo. Ano ka man, babae, lalake, o anuman, maaari kang sumali at magpa-test.
Iba pang katanungan? Email


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Something Beautiful

You are invited to join the LoveYourself Photoshoot Batch 4. They say a picture is worth a thousand words -- in this special charity photoshoot, it's worth a thousand pesos and a lot of love, for yourself and for a society we envision free from the scare of HIV/AIDS. Register here:

The cute, sweet music for this ad is "Beautiful World" (originally written as a love song) by Adam Crossley. Listen to more of his great music here:

STI/HIV/AIDS Learning Session at Chevron

Love Yourself's Founding President Ronivin Pagtakhan and Director of Communications Chris Lagman led an STI/HIV/AIDS learning session among employees of Chevron at RCBC Plaza, Makati on December 7, 2011. It was organized and sponsored by Chevron's PRIDE organization in the Philippines.

After the two-part talk, peer educators and counselors Ivy Krystel Hapitan, Dexter Secosana, Neil Bryant Calizo, and Jedd Rommel conducted small group question-and-answer sessions to address specific queries among the attendees.

Monday, December 05, 2011

HIV & AIDS Registry, October 2011: 92% higher than same period last year.

In October 2011, there were 200 new HIV Ab sero-positive individuals confirmed by the STD/AIDS Cooperative Central Laboratory (SACCL) and re- ported to the HIV and AIDS Registry. This was 92% higher compared to the same period last year (n=104 in 2010). Most of the cases (97%) were males. Males having sex with other Males (85%) were the predominant type of sexual transmission. Download the report here.

Know Your HIV Status on December 11, 2011

This Sunday, you have an opportunity to know your HIV status -- for free, in a private facility, among friendly and caring staff. December 11, 2011. Starts at 10 AM, ends at 4 PM. Details here.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

It's time.

It starts like a painless prick in the mind -- HIV? Me? Nah.

Then after a while, you remember those crazy times in the past. Yeah, you think, crazy but not too crazy as to put me at risk. Besides, the probability of getting it is too low. Malinis naman sila, I'm sure. You continue to attempt convincing yourself.

Time pass and you're most of the time successful in keeping those HIV thoughts at bay. Yet there were times, admit it, that the prick in the mind becomes a bit more intense. Did I really do it bareback? Can't remember na. May condom naman yata. Yata? Shit, can't remember na talaga

Now it's selective memory lapse. You think you were safe naman, most of the time, at the least. But you can't seem to get the doubt off your mind. Suddenly, you don't know, it is not clear if you really were safe.

Everytime you see those three letters HIV, there's a slight skip in your heartbeat, a little lump in your throat forming. I think I have it. Maybe I have it. What if I have it?

It's a creepy little bastard, because like a thief in the night, it blindsides you:  you have started to trim your life plans and water down your dreams to accommodate the assumption that, maybe, you think, you feel, you have it. It's a painless thought at first, a dull feeling after a while, but the longer you stay in the dark, the heavier it feels.

You busy yourself with stuff, with work, with parties, with anything that can fill your mind and keep it from focusing on HIV. Fuck that blog, now the only thing it talks about is HIV. You distract yourself to the hilt only to find a big white snorting elephant stuck in the meandering grooves of your brain. HIV, HIV, HIV, fuck

You search online for symptoms. Fever, flu-like symptoms, rashes, diarrhea, but not for all, sometimes none at all. Symptoms only when it has advanced to AIDS, when the body has given up, when the virus has totally taken over. Scary shit. You slam a closed fist on the table, why wasn't I careful kasi.

You consider getting yourself tested. You're scared like a little kid about to get spanked, closing your eyes before you hear the leather belt whip and welt your skin. 

You realize there is really no way out but through. If I don't have HIV and I'm suffering this way, fuck, I'm such a worry wart punishing myself for nothing. If I do have HIV and I'm standing here doing nothing about it, then I'm really just letting this foul-smelling fear immobilize me. Like committing the most gradual suicide by slicing myself up part-by-little-part.

Part of you triumphs saying, it's time. It's time to unload the baggage. It's time to use this energy, now in the form of fear, to propel myself forward.  It's time that I face that fear, ready to battle it tooth and nail.

* * *

Have you been thinking of getting tested? Perhaps you are not ready yet for testing but you want to talk to someone about it? Here's the event for you. First, you will find here friendly, professional, and well-trained HIV educators and counselors. And, secondly, the event is scheduled on a Sunday! And very importantly, 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 December 2011 (10am to 4pm)
Where: Playroom - 35 West Avenue, Quezon City

Some frequently asked questions (FAQs):
1. I am afraid to go for testing, I think I'm not ready yet. Can I still go and just talk to someone without getting myself tested?
Absolutely. There will be trained HIV educators and counselors there that you can talk to. They will respect your feelings, and if you feel you are not ready to go for your HIV testing, that's okay. There is value in just talking things out, so come. 
2. How much does it cost if I go to this event?
The HIV counseling is free of charge. The HIV testing is also free of charge. You do not need to pay for anything. Love Yourself is subsidizing the conduct of this event, and if you want to help by donating, you are free to do so. Otherwise, everything is free. 
3. What should I bring?
You are not required to bring anything. You will not be asked for an ID.
4. Since it will be a blood test, should I not eat anything before? Is there fasting involved?
It is a blood test, yes, but there are no prerequisites such as fasting or no-alcohol diet, etc. The test will look for HIV antibodies in your blood, and eating food or drinking anything will not affect the results.
5. This is my first HIV test. I do not know what will happen during the test. How will the HIV testing process go?
Congratulations for making the brave decision to take the test. Read the following: What to expect during your HIV test.
6. I’m a girl. May I go?
Of course. This event is open to all.
Other questions? Email

Location Map:

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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 an establishment called 'Renrich'.)

Friday, December 02, 2011

Celebrity Lovers Featured in

Go to the feature by clicking here.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

The Love Yourself Project Featured In Manila Bulletin

Featured at page G4 of Manila Bulletin on Nov. 30, 2011. (Click image below to enlarge.)

To read the article, you may go to