Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Sexy Boys Go Bare for HIV Awareness

What do these boys have in common? Nothing much except for their unique sexiness and their willingness to take their shirts off to help the cause of Love Yourself in HIV awareness and education.

Kit Guerra has been with the local rugby team, the Volcanoes, as a flanker for around 6 years now. He has modeled for Bench underwear in the controversial calendar and billboard shoot that featured the rugby team’s players. A graduate of Boston University with a major in Advertising, he has started working for Campaigns and Grey. CrossFit training is part of his routine to keep fit and prepare to compete in the 2013 CrossFit Games in June. No, unfortunately he is straight and attached, with a 4-year long girlfriend based in Seattle. He has made it a habit to go for HIV screening regularly. This is his first chance to help out with the advocacy. “There is no need to be scared [about getting tested for HIV]. You get support every step of the way,” he says.

Carlito Rosalindo Jr. is the current Mr. Gay World Philippines title holder, and has been an avid supporter of Love Yourself, joining the advocacy in several events including last year’s Pride March in Makati. He is a trained contemporary, lyrical, folk and jazz dancer from the University of the Philippines where he was part of the UP FIlipinana Dance Troupe, and he has performed professionally for a number of local shows soon after he graduated .  He is currently in Dubai to pursue new opportunities. But before leaving, he obliged to help Love Yourself this time by being part of this campaign.

Jeremy Favia is best known as a celebrity chef on TV5, with his shows “Chef vs. Mom” (nominated for the Best Lifestyle Programme category in the Asian TV Awards) and “Take-Out.” He claims to be a shy person in reality, but somehow landed a career in TV when he was urged by friends to audition for “Ka-Toque” at QTV 11. With “Take-Out” he gets to go around trying out unusual local fare, then prepares his own recipe take from his gastronomic experiences. Currently single, he says if he were to find someone special, “dapat mabait sya, maasikaso. Yung physical, bonus na lang yun. Age doesn’t matter. Number lang ‘yon.” He gets tested regularly. Chef Jeremy has this message for sexually-active people,“If you love yourself, get tested regularly.”

This first-of-its-kind campaign, dubbed Project Indulge, is a collaboration among Love Yourself, award-winning ad agency Campaigns and Grey, and top-rank advertising photographer Jeanne Young. It  features provocative yet tasteful imagery coupled with insightful, witty ‘matter-of-fact’ copy that departs from the usual fear tactics of HIV awareness campaigns. It suggests that people include regular HIV testing as part of their personal grooming routine to stay healthy and sexy. This resonates well with the advocacy’s name, “Love Yourself.”

“Fear is what actually prevents sexually-active individuals to go for HIV testing,” says Chris Lagman, Director for Counseling and Education for Love Yourself. “We wanted to create a more positive impression about HIV testing, and address the stigma behind it. This has been Love Yourself’s approach to awareness, education and counseling. And it has been working for us based on the results we are getting.”

Indeed, Love Yourself seems to have the right formula to reach out to the hidden population. In 2012, there were 2.5 million people reached online, 2,253 of which were tested and the 404 who turned out positive were assisted with treatment. The advocacy boasts of more than 200 trained volunteers who helped make this happen.

Even the number of clients The LoveYourself Hub, a Malate-based clinic, is servicing has increased in numbers over recent months.

In 2013, Love Yourself scales up its efforts with a number of new projects, like the "ultra-discreet" and "ultra-premium" HIV Testing service in Makati Central Business District called, "Love Yourself Platinum". The advocacy is also expanding soon in other key cities which includes Pasay, Cebu and Angeles in Pampanga.

Upcoming schedules will include FREE HIV Testing events in Cebu on February 23 and in Manila on March 10. Interested individuals may visit go.LoveYourself.ph/Cebu and go.LoveYourself.ph/Manila for details.