Sunday, February 07, 2016

2016, A Year of Beautiful Beginnings: LoveYourself Launches New Clinic, "LoveYourself Uni", and The NEX+ CHAP+ER Program

LoveYourself is about to enter a new phase as it opens a new clinic, called LoveYourself Uni to replace the LoveYourself Hub, which was closed down last December 2015. The new and more accessible location along the northbound lane of Taft Avenue, just beside LRT-1 Buendia station, offers bigger space and a hospitable and cozy environment, an upgrade from the LoveYourself Hub's older location at San Marcelino Street, Malate, Manila.

Regular operations for LoveYourself Uni will commence on Wednesday, February 17. Operating hours will be the same as LoveYourself Anglo along Shaw Boulevard. Details on the location and operating hours of LoveYourself's two clinics can be found here.

Unity, University, Inclusiveness

LoveYourself Uni, pronounced the same way as the “uni” in the words "unity" and "university", has been given its name as an allusion to the core philosophies of LoveYourself.  It refers to the unity of the community, with a thrust on unity that goes beyond gender, sexual orientation, or identity, in the same way that the HIV epidemic is not necessarily limited by these factors.

Furthermore, the name wishes to impart a sense of inclusiveness, that all groups of people are welcomed and given the same hallmark treatment qualities of "inaasikaso" and "iniingatan" for which LoveYourself is known for. These two Filipino words do not have a direct translation to English, but roughly mean "being handled" or "being watched out for" and "being taken care of", respectively.

It is also LoveYourself's mission to help its clients receive the right care and treatment by early detection. It also employs various behavioral change mechanisms through its numerous awareness and education campaigns.

Lastly, "Uni" is also derived from the word "University" as a reference to the youth. DOH data has consistently pinpointed the youth as among the population groups most vulnerable to being infected by the virus. In December 2015 alone, 183 of 650 or 28% of reported cases were aged 15 to 24 years old.  From January to December 2015, 2,215 out of 7,829 or roughly a third of reported cases came from this age group.

Aside from its physical accessibility to nearby universities, it is the hope of LoveYourself to be able to speak to the youth and impart valuable awareness that can potentially save the lives of young people.

Opening Ceremonies

To commemorate the occasion, an inauguration of the clinic is set on Saturday, February 13, with keynote speakers and personalities expected to grace the occasion.

Chris Lagman and Vinn Pagtakhan, founding members and leaders of LoveYourself, are expected to render speeches. in addition, the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM)'s HIV/AIDS research program head, Dr. Rosanna Ditangco, as well as representatives from major partners, the Department of Health (DOH) and Pilipinas Shell Foundation, and various media and lifestyle personalities are all expected to grace the occasion.

Performances by artists including slam poet readings are expected to provide entrainment during the opening ceremonies.

Springboard Towards The Future

Apart from the opening of LoveYourself Uni, the onset of the New Year has been marked by LoveYourself's expansion into PLHIV (People living with HIV) care and treatment through the launch of the "NEX+ CHAP+ER Program", which addresses both the biomedical and psychosocial aspects of HIV treatment.

The program is currently being piloted in LoveYourself Anglo, with a number of LoveYourself volunteers functioning as life coaches. The same program will be implemented in LoveYourself Uni.

This program is highly significant for the organization, whose services were previously confined to HIV testing and counseling, including bringing and counseling reactive clients to receive proper treatment from accredited medical facilities, primarily its major partner hospital, RITM.