Saturday, May 18, 2013

"Happy Approach" to HIV Awareness Results in Huge Increase in Number of People Getting Tested

The Love Yourself Hub, a clinic and events space jointly operated by the community-based organization Love Yourself and the Department of Health’s Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, posted its first quarter results for 2013, registering a 5-fold increase in the number of people accessing its free HIV testing services, compared to the same quarter last year. A total of 1,028 individuals came to the Malate-based facility during the period January to March 2013, while during the same period in 2012, there were 171.

Such impressive growth in clientele is consistent with the velocity of increase as observed throughout 2012, with average growth rate of 24% per month.

The partnership between a private non-governmental organization Love Yourself and the government’s Research Institute of Tropical Medicine (RITM) was key to this success. “We were both able to leverage our strengths – RITM is one of the country’s centers for HIV-related services, while our group had the marketing savvy to connect the clients to the needed services,” explains Ian Felix Alquiros, Director for Partnerships at Love Yourself. “This is an example of success for a public-private partnership program.”

Another critical driver to this success is the distinctive way with which Love Yourself reaches out to the community in encouraging people to pay attention and act on the spreading HIV epidemic. Since its inception, Love Yourself has consciously stayed away from using fear-based tactics to elicit attention and behavior change related to HIV prevention. “We believe that we serve the community best by keeping HIV talk away from grim and scare. In all our communication, we highlight the positive side of things. In the midst of the epidemic, we fight fear with love, and we keep on smiling!” says Love Yourself president and founder, Ronnievinn Pagtakhan, a nurse by profession.