LoveYourself introduces an innovation with its new service called Couple’s HIV Counseling and Testing (CHCT), otherwise lightheartedly coined as LoveYourself Purple, designed for couples who wish to undergo HIV counseling and testing together. This service aims to provide intervention for couples so that they may plan for their future and discuss a realistic risk reduction plan that they can implement together. An important note to be mindful of with LoveYourself’s CHCT program is the nuance of the word “couple” which implies that at least two individuals who wish to avail the program are in a pre-sexual or sexual relationship.
The Learning and Development arm of LoveYourself, Love University, together with one of its founding members, Chris Lagman, coordinated the training program for LoveYourself volunteers who will be counselors for this service. This service was developed with the backdrop of rising incidence of HIV infections among males who have sex with males (MSM), many of these infections taking place among MSMs who are in a relationship.
The service has been dubbed as LoveYourself Purple, with purple being the marriage of the colors blue and red, representing wisdom and love, respectively. The union of colors wittingly conjures the image of two, mutually consenting people who have decided to avail of LoveYourself’s services and manage their sexual health.
The Rising Incidence of HIV Incidence Among Couples
In male-male couples, a rise in the risk of HIV infection is attributed to a number of factors, including failing to confirm the HIV status of either partner before having unprotected anal intercourse (UAI), more frequent sex acts and receptive roles, as well as lower condom use during anal sex. Although UAI is the primary mode of HIV transmission among MSM’s, research has identified that this sexual practice has been mostly opted by couples to show their love, intimacy, and trust towards one another, which in turn edifies the commitment and satisfaction they have for each other. UAI is also seen by couples as the primary reason to establish a sexual agreement among themselves.
There has also been a confirmed tendency among couples to assume the seronegativity of their partners and a failure of either or both parties to adhere to a sexual agreement. In this light, Ali Borja, a clinical psychologist and speaker who has given talks on a broad range of topics including depression and suicide prevention, finds it very timely and relevant to offer a couple’s counseling service, which LoveYourself is going to undertake and offer as the CHCT.
The service will be different from LoveYourself’s usual one-on-one counseling services. Confidentiality of personal and sensitive information will still be upheld to the highest degree, but for couple’s counseling, the consent to undergo counseling together and consequently discussions of each partner’s sexual behaviors will have to be obtained with both parties present. The couple will receive their results together as well.
LoveYourself Purple will commence on August 7, 2016, Sunday. The service will be held only on Sundays, from 9AM to 2PM thereafter. The service can be availed of at any of LoveYourself’s two clinics, LoveYourself Anglo along Shaw Boulevard in Mandaluyong, or LoveYourself Uni just next to Buendia (Gil Puyat) LRT station.
One couple will be allotted one hour for consultation and testing purposes, which means that five couples will only be entertained during both of LoveYourself’s clinics’ Sunday operating hours. Setting appointment is therefore recommended, and interested couples can sign-up at http://go.loveyourself.ph/purple to choose their preferred schedule. All parties must have read and consented to the conditions stated in the sign-up sheet before proceeding to the appointment.