Thursday, November 16, 2017

These Squads Explain Why It’s Cool to Know Your Status at the #LoveSquad HIV Screening Day Event on November 26

By Diego Rozul and Jean Natividad


In case you missed it, #LoveSquad, LoveYourself’s fast, easy, and totally anonymous HIV screening day event is happening on November 26, Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Victoria Court Malate. Don’t forget to register here: go.loveyourself.ph/lovesquad.


And just in case you need a tad more convincing to show up, we’ve asked our dear squads why making HIV testing your #SquadGoals and a regular part of your self-care routine is important.

#ChillSquad
L to R: Rv Torres, Fifth Pagotan, Kenn Richmond, Apolo Cuenco, Ernest Gatpandan III

Have you been putting off that HIV test even if it’s been months since the three-month rule? Well it’s about time to get rid of those anxieties and finally relax in knowing your status. You’ll certainly find security and assurance with our lovely volunteers assisting you in every step of the way. Getting tested for HIV shouldn’t be such a daunting task, just ask our #ChillSquad!

“Guys, let’s make HIV testing FUN! Me and my friends did it nga kaya niyo rin yan! (Me and my friends did it, you can too!)” Apolo Cuenco shares. As a nurse, blogger, and climate advocate, Apolo has long been wanting to get rid of the stigma associated with HIV and is excited to join everyone who’s taking their first test. Apolo encourages us to look at HIV from a new perspective. “I know it’s [HIV test] scary, eh kasi naman you’ve been perceiving it  wrongly. Atin atin lang ‘to! Walang maingay, let’s go! It’s free pa! (I know it’s scary, but you’ve been perceiving getting tested for HIV wrongly. It’s just us here! No one will gossip, let’s go! It’s free!)"

Rv Torres, an IT manager has also joined the #ChillSquad sharing, “I always wanted to be part of the cause, and the #LoveSquad shoot was a great opportunity.” Rv takes care of himself not just for the betterment of his career, but for his family as well. “Taking the test is quite unnerving to some. The key is to find a compelling reason to do it. I’d like to ask everyone to please support this cause. Take the test for your family, your future, and for your friends.”

#GymSquad
L to R: Cyd Rodriguez, John Magsadia, Gab Carreon, John Cruz Quinto, Tony Fabian

Following the steps of Mr. Gay World Philippines 2016 first runner-up Bench Ortiz, these gym fit hunks want you to take part of a healthy lifestyle. Making healthy choices doesn’t just include your physical or mental health; it should include your sexual health, too. Join the #GymSquad in your road to a healthier you!

Entrepreneur John Cruz Quinto reflects about how much the HIV advocacy means to him by remembering his friends, colleagues, and acquaintances who are living with HIV. “This is the way I think I can help educate people and tell others to not discriminate people affected by the virus.” John reminds us how we should treat people living with HIV (PLHIV). “Acceptance is the other cure to help these people not to hide their status and to encourage them to start and continue treatment.”

Cyd Rodriguez, a sales executive, felt ecstatic about being part of #GymSquad as fitness has been a major part of his lifestyle. Combining it with the HIV advocacy, he feels proud about the message he brings to people. “HIV testing has been part of my usual health routine and being able to share this plays a big impact. Showing and inspiring people to be better, that is something I’m passionate about. Being SEXY comes with great responsibility, and knowing your status gives you that extra boost and peace of mind,” Cyd says.

“Regular HIV testing can save your life. Early detection is the most important step. Remember it’s not the end of your life. Get tested and know your status,” actor Tony Fabian concluded.

#StudySquad
L to R: Isa Rodriguez, Rian Eli, Sebastian Castro, Aldwin Chester Amolat, Maan Carreon

Your friendly #StudySquad not only represents the joy in learning but also the benefits of staying informed. Today, it's cool to be smart. And we don't just mean being textbook smart; we believe in being street smart. Be cautious, curious, and critical, especially when it comes to things that might compromise your health and well-being, like HIV. Read reliable sources, talk to experts on the matter, and heed the invitation of the #StudySquad to get tested.

Content creator and tech journalist Isa Rodriguez shared, “HIV testing is for your own good. With LoveYourself, it's free, easy, and accessible, so there are no excuses!” Isa is definitely passionate about the HIV advocacy. “I believe HIV awareness to be a worthwhile cause, so I'm willing to help in what small way I can,” she explained. “I was a student for quite some time, too (I also attended law school for a couple of years), so I know how it's like to have classmates and your school barkada become your support group. All you ever really need is one person in the group to inspire awareness in something, and hopefully this campaign reaches that demographic.”

For HR consultant Rian Eli, being part of the #StudySquad is a beautiful reminder of the values and discipline that learning brings. He told us, “When you are a student, you need to have hard work, focus, dedication, and perseverance. In real life or in other settings, you would also need those values for you to achieve your goals or to succeed in life, whatever your line of endeavors is. And the discipline that you trained with in school can be of big help, too.” Eli was also an ambassador for the Let’s TESTMNL! HIV screening day event last May, so spreading awareness about HIV is nothing new to him. “Regular HIV testing means loving yourself and taking care of yourself. People should be responsible of their actions. To know your HIV status and to make it a regular routine just shows you care about other people as much as you care about yourself. By spreading this knowledge or awareness, we are a mile ahead in eradicating the stigma and lessening the effects of HIV and AIDS.”

“I have been a college student, and we all know that unprotected sex happens even with students. So it's best that they have themselves check,” is medical representative Maan Carreon’s advice. Maan feels honored to be part of the #LoveSquad campaign, and she encourages others to be brave and know their status. She remarked, “Having themselves checked is important. To avoid the spread of HIV, be educated on how to deal when infected and how to make the most out of everything.”

#TravelSquad
L to R: Jed Garcia, Jadee Dafielmoto, Cristelle Tolentino, Mark Jen “Troi” Avendaño, Isaias Jenobiagon

Traveling is a whole lot of fun, but acquiring an unpleasant ‘souvenir’ isn’t. As you pursue your passion for exploring new places, immersing in various cultures, and making new connections, be sure to stay safe. And while you’re at it, why not educate those you meet, too? Your help in promoting not just picture-perfect places but also HIV education and prevention will go a long way. Just take it from our #TravelSquad members.

Hotelier Mark Jen “Troi” Avendaño believes “travelling isn’t always by feet. We travel through our dreams, through relationships, through love, and through many other ways. However, the most unforgettable travel that we’ll ever experience is the travel of one’s life to being part of another.” Through his participation in the  #LoveSquad campaign, Mark aims to inspire a strong sense of responsibility for one’s life and those of others: “It feels great to be part of something that aims to encourage, help, and promote wellness and awareness through providing programs like this for the community. All health tests are important, and that includes HIV testing. If you value your life and the life that surrounds you, you shouldn’t skip it. The risk is not knowing; get tested.”

Key account specialist Jed Garcia, who was also part of the previous Let’s TestMNL! campaign, shared with us, “It’s a privilege to be part of the campaign for the second time, and I think for me, it’s allowed me to do something significant for the community/nation, which is educating them about HIV screening and overall health.” In order to encourage everyone to know their status, Jed explained, “It’s [HIV testing] like the ordinary annual exam, and as they say, prevention or early detection is way better than a cure.”

Travel consultant Jadee Dafielmoto put it simply when he said, “If you love yourself, then get tested.”


Grab the whole gang and make HIV screening your #SquadGoals. Register for #LoveSquad on November 26 at go.loveyourself.ph/lovesquad. You will receive a confirmation message two days before the event (November 24, Friday). See you there!