Monday, May 27, 2019

Get Pricked by the Hot Nurses of Pinas: Basics of HIV Screening

By Ronald C. Bugarin

The hottest nurses from all over the Philippines gather together for National HIV Testing Day themed Hot Nurses of Pinas on June 15, 2019 from 11:00am to 7:00pm. LoveYourself has partnered with more than eleven (11) Community Based Organizations (CBOs) nationwide for you to experience private, secure, and accurate HIV testing in a fraction of the time and have a chance to get pricked with some of the Hot Nurses in the country.

Sign up now for a fast, free and anonymous HIV screening.

Hot Nurses of Pinas marks the seventh community-led multi-site HIV testing event held by LoveYourself, beginning with Incognito in May 2016. These events are the organization’s efforts to make HIV screening easier and more accessible to more people, especially now that LoveYourself has partnered with other CBO’s in the nation.  This initiative is one of LoveYourself’s many efforts to halt the growing number of HIV cases in the country by promoting timely HIV testing as a regular part of one’s self-care routine.The process is patterned after similar successful screenings in Thailand (Suck, Fuck, Test) and the United States.

This National HIV Screening Day is perfect for people on the go!  In just 15 to 20 minutes, rapid screening shortens the processing time compared to regular testing but assures 100% accuracy for nonreactive results!. These rapid test kits can even detect HIV 1 and 2 antibodies with only  a few drops of blood.

What exactly should you expect to happen during a rapid screening setup at Hot Nurses of Pinas? First, you register at the counter asking for a few details like your birthday and contact number. A unique identifier code (UIC) based on the given information and client number shall be generated upon successful registration together with a checklist to be signed per station to guide you throughout the process.

After registering, you proceed to the laboratory section for blood extraction. No worries here as only a pinprick using a sterilized lancet is enough to be used as a sample. Compared to the regular screening where a bigger needle is used and a bottle full of blood is extracted, in rapid screening set-up, the needle to be used is much smaller and only a drop of blood is needed to run the test.  Afraid it’ll hurt? Well don’t fret as our Hot Nurses will be gentle with you in getting a sample of your blood. Once the sample is dropped onto the kit, a reagent is added to activate it. Results will then be read within 15 to 20 minutes.

While waiting for the results, our tireless volunteers will facilitate an engaging discussion about the screening process, basics of HIV transmission, and sexual health management. After which, a trained change agent or counselor shall conduct risk assessment prior to the release of result. This private individual session with a counselor is the best time to raise questions and concerns related to HIV.

When results are ready, your counselor or life coach will then explain to you whether you are reactive or nonreactive. When you test nonreactive, your counselor will emphasize how you can have safer and satisfying sex with your current sexual practices, and you can be on your way home! It is important to note that this process does not give you a printed copy of your results for anonymity and confidentiality purposes. If you prefer or need a physical copy then you can visit LoveYourself Uni or Anglo on another day after the HIV Testing Event to avail of the standard testing process during regular clinic operations.

When results are reactive, your counselor assure you that you won't have to go through this alone. With our Life Coaches on hand they will guide you through the treatment process including the requirements needed prior to enrollment to a treatment center as well as health management for newly diagnosed Persons Living with HIV. It is essential to get yourself treated immediately from a treatment center of your convenience to protect you from possible infections.

All discussions with our counselors and life coaches, especially the results, will be kept confidential. So what are you waiting for, register now at to get tested, know your status and break the stigma.

To learn more about rapid screening assay testing kits and its accuracy, click on this link.
Ron is a true blooded Banker who does events and hosting on the side. He has volunteered at LoveYourself because of his former partner was diagnosed as PLHIV.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Hot Nurses of ‘Pinas Serves with Care on June 15, 2019

By Carlos Diego A. Rozul

Let the Hot Nurses of ‘Pinas make HIV screening convenient for you! On June 15, 2019 LoveYourself launches the third community-led multi-site National HIV Screening Day. Together with our partner community-based organizations around the Philippines you can get free, fast, and confidential HIV screening closer to you! What are you waiting for? Sign up, and don’t miss out.

The Hot Nurses of ‘Pinas follows up on the Hot Doctors of ‘Pinas in November 2018, that served over 800 clients nationwide. This one-day event makes HIV screening more available nationwide than ever with the help of our partner testing sites.

You no longer need to fill out lengthy forms found during regular testing days. Instead, you just give your contact information upon registration, be given a Unique Identifier Code (UIC), and our hot nurses will help you out throughout the process. An available counselor will then attend to you, and the results will be ready in 15-20 minutes.

Don’t forget to sign up, and don’t miss out on June 15, 2019!
Carlos Diego is an HIV counselor and the Head of Editorial for LoveYourself. Outside of volunteering, he is a clinical audiology student and a registered psychometrician. He aims to facilitate a deeper meaning to health by discussing the importance of aural, sexual, and mental health.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Bag of Causes in Chic Bayongs

By Bet Domingo

During the Love Gala last May 11: Courage Amplified, DC Bayong designer Don Cristobal handed out a Love Bayong to LoveYourself Ambassador and Miss Universe 2015 Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach, who willingly modeled the bags in support of the advocacy. Photo by Robin Marero.

If most people have a “bucket” for their list of everything they wanted to achieve, then fashion icon Don Cristobal (DC) thinks differently with his “DC Bayongs.”

As a subsidiary of the DC brand, the DC Bayong is a chic reinvention of the Philippine go-to market bags. Instead of fish and bahay-kubo vegetables, it entails various causes that the modern society would find worthwhile to support, including the Love Gala – Asia’s premier charity and awards event for the HIV/AIDS advocacy.

For this particular event, the DC Bayong releases its collection of the “Love Bayong,” which is embellished with uniquely curated "rose” patches that perfectly represent this year’s Love Gala theme, Courage Amplified. 

Cristobal explained that he wanted to give back to the community through the Love Bayong collection to help raise funds for the LoveYourself, Inc.’s HIV awareness activities and projects. The LoveYourself, together with the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), hosts the Love Gala 2019.

According to Cristobal, the Love Bayong on Love Gala is just the beginning of a bigger partnership with the DC Bayong, since he is already planning to donate a certain amount for each bayong sold in the country and even abroad to the HIV advocacy through LoveYourself.

Aside from the HIV cause, the DC Bayong was produced primarily to promote and empower local artisans by commissioning their work of art. This top quality bayongs would also bring a higher level of pride to the local artisans. The DC Bayong is 100% handcrafted.

Another cause one could bring in donning these bayongs is sustainability. The bayongs are not just artistically crafted, but also very durable that will last for longer period of time as compared to regular bags and bayongs – mamas might be able to hand it down to the next generation. 

Cristobal said, “DC Bayong focuses its attention in developing items that are sustainable and will stand the test of time," which will address the problem of unsustainable consumerism and spendthrift fashion lifestyle. The bayongs are versatile and come in different shapes and colors, which can be an alternative to eco bags, but multiply by the hundreds in creativity, craftsmanship and care for environmental conservation efforts. In this sense, Ms. Earth Philippines 2013 Angelee Delos Reyes is one of DC Bayong’s notable ambassador.

Furthermore, Cristobal launched the DC Bayong Travel Series last April at the Helipad Show in Holiday Inn Manila Galleria to encourage more people to patronize locally made products that are sustainable and travel worthy.

Cristobal is currently the chairman of marketing & events for the Fashion Designers Association of the Philippines (FDAP). In March, Cristobal officially became a LoveYourself volunteer under Batch Kauna Kai after supporting and participating in various events of the organization. He will dress the candidates of Miss LoveYourself during the organization's founding anniversary celebration this year, which is the highly anticipated gathering of volunteers, celebrating as one family in diversity, and the triumphs in the advocacy.

He will dress the candidates of Miss LoveYourself during the organization's founding anniversary celebration this year, which is the highly anticipated gathering of volunteers, celebrating as one family in diversity and the triumphs in the advocacy.

To support DC Bayong’s Love Bayong, interested individuals should contact Andee Ortega at 09981980091.

LoveYourself is the leading community-led HIV advocacy group in the country, which now operates six community centers — (1) LoveYourself Anglo in Mandaluyong City, (2) LoveYourself Uni and (3) Victoria by LoveYourself in Pasay City, (4) LoveYourself Welcome in Manila, (5) Lily by LoveYourself x DIOSSA in Paranaque City, and (6) LoveYourself White House in Cebu City. These centers provide differentiated services and care approach to address the country’s HIV situation, which include HIV education, testing and counseling, and treatment and life coaching.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

PG-15: Parental Consent Not Required

by Ronald Bugarin

On 20 December 2018, President Rodrigo Duterte signed into law Republic Act (RA) No. 11166 otherwise known as the “Philippine HIV and AIDS Policy Act” which repeals RA No. 8504 or the “Philippine AIDS Prevention and Control Act of 1998.” Among the revisions made in the new law is that minors aged 15 to below 18 years old can now be tested for Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) without parental  / guardian consent.

Under Article IV, Section 29 of the new law, If the person is fifteen (15) to below eighteen (18) years of age, consent to voluntary HIV testing shall be obtained from the child without the need of consent from a parent or guardian.” It also states that “any young person aged below fifteen (15) who is pregnant or engaged in high-risk behavior shall be eligible for HIV testing and counseling with the assistance of a licensed social worker or health worker. Consent to voluntary HIV testing shall be obtained from the child without the need of consent from a parent or guardian.”

The lowering of age to allow HIV testing without parental or guardian consent is keeping with the World Health Organization (WHO) pronouncement that minors should be able to access HIV testing without any form of pressure or coercion. Given this, the willingness of a minor to undergo voluntary HIV testing should be given equal weight as that of an adult.

In such cases, health workers have a duty to assess the maturity and ability of a minor to decide. Each person getting tested should have the capacity to recognize and understand the benefits and consequences of an HIV test.  Also, the health worker should give an opportunity for the minor to discuss their willingness to undergo HIV testing alone.

More importantly, Section 29 responds to the rising cases of HIV infection among minors. According to the February 2019 HIV/AIDS and ART Registry of the Philippines published by the Department of Health - Epidemiology Bureau, HIV infection among the age group of 15 - 24 nearly doubled from 17% in the ten-year period of 2000-2009 as compared to the last ten-year period (2010-2019) at 29%. From January 1984 to February 2019, the following are the total HIV infection among minors per age group:

Age Group
Number of Reported HIV Infection*
15 - 17 years old
10 - 14 years old
Less than 10 years old
*From January 1984 to February 2019 based on February 2019 HIV/AIDS and ART Registry of the Philippines

In an interview with CNN Philippines, Rep. Ron Salo, co-author of the House of Representative version of the bill, sees the enactment of the new law as the Government’s initiative to protect the young from getting infected with HIV. Rep. Salo also told the network that he believes that the young should be afforded basic protection and care from public health dangers, such as contracting HIV, for they are considered vulnerable populations.

Albert Muyot, chief executive officer of Save the Children Philippines in an interview with Philippine Star, views the new law as a way for minors to be more self - empowered to know their HIV status without the fear of disclosing this to their parents and guardians.  Muyot welcomed the signing of the law as the Government’s way of ensuring that all families are protecting and nurturing the health care of the young which is consistent with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Parents’ Insights

A few parents were interviewed to get their insights about the law.

From a mother’s perspective, their children should still inform them before they get tested for HIV since they are still young to understand the repercussions of an HIV test and its possible result. Joy del Rosario, mother of two daughters aged 8 and 13 years old, believes that she still want to be informed if her kids get themselves tested for HIV.  She thinks that they are still minors, and need all the support and guidance from their responsible guardian. But she will not prevent or stop her kids from being tested.
On the other hand, the fathers who were interviewed  feel that it is better to allow HIV testing for 15 years old and 18 below without parental/guardian consent since this would help take away the awkward feeling minors might have if their parent/guardian were informed of their HIV testing and allow them to be more open to a health worker about their sexual behavior during the test. Johndale Regio, a father to a 10-year old boy, sees nothing wrong with minors getting themselves tested for HIV without parental/guardian consent. Regio pointed out that youth of today are very aggressive and exposed to sexual activity at a young age.
Nevertheless, all parents felt that there should be a solid sex education among minors so that they get the right information and make a conscious effort to protect themselves from possible HIV exposure.  But it would be best if matters of sexuality can also be discussed between the parents and the child, so that they are guided properly and lovingly. In this sense, minors who engage in such activities are guided properly on the risks that they may get into.
HIV/AIDS Stakeholders’ Meeting held last April 5, 2019 in Cebu

Hurdles in Implementation

As of this writing, the implementing rules and regulations of the new law have yet to be released. However, there are ongoing discussions among stakeholders, especially with organizations involved in the HIV and AIDS prevention on the implementation of the amended law. All concerned sectors and institutions should work double time as there is an immediate need to implement the law, since more minors are getting exposed to HIV at a faster rate.

Among other things, a comprehensive sex and sexuality education in schools is crucial in addressing the HIV and AIDS crisis in the country.  It is important to include concrete steps that a minor can take in order to protect themselves from possible HIV and STI infection, and prevention of unplanned pregnancy.  Increasing access to sexual health information can help remove the stigma about HIV and the relative misconceptions about the virus.   

In the absence of a formal sex education in schools, parents and guardians play a crucial role in educating their children about sex and the prevention of STIs including HIV. Parents and guardians should be equipped and able to provide their children the correct and reliable information about sex. Another important note is that sex and its related topics should be openly discussed among families that’s free of any judgement or bias.

LoveYourself offers free HIV testing and counseling services in its clinics. For more information, click here.
Ron is a true blooded Banker who does events and hosting on the side. He has volunteered at LoveYourself because of his former partner was diagnosed as PLHIV

Wednesday, May 08, 2019

Batch Kauna Kai Soars to New Heights as Loveyourself’s 22nd Batch of Volunteers

By Mark Angello C. Ganon

On March 16, 2019, LoveYourself welcomed 74 incoming volunteers in a batch orientation at the People’s Hall at SM Aura Premier at Taguig City. Named Kauna Kai, these dynamic individuals were oriented by fellow volunteers headed by Joy Daguiso, LoveYourself HIV counselor. The batch orientation, which was a whole-day event, served as Batch Kauna Kai’s stepping stone as they embark on the advocacy in raising awareness on HIV and AIDS, which continues to be a major global public health issue.

74 aspiring volunteers make up Batch Kauna Kai, LoveYourself’s 22nd batch of volunteers


Since 2011, LoveYourself has welcomed its volunteers in batches. These are identified with distinct terms that are relevant to the organization and its advocacy. It ranged from motivational words like Ascend, Ignite and, Vanguard to native terms like Magayon (beauty), Bigkis (bond) and Bahandi (treasure). For 2018, the batch names were picked from the theme “love across the globe”. It started with Atma Prema, which is the Sanskrit equivalent of unconditional self-love, followed by Upendo, the Swahili translation of love, and Meraki, a Greek principle of “doing something with soul, creativity, and love.”

Chris Lagman, LoveYourself, Inc. Senior Director, had an inspirational talk with Batch Kauna Kai volunteers during the whole day orientation at the People’s Hall at the SM Aura Premier
Sticking to the previous theme of “love across the globe”, a phrase from the Hausa language was chosen to brand the first batch for 2019. Hausa, a Chadic language from the Afro-Asiatic language family, is widely used as a word of trade in Western Africa. From its rich vocabulary are the words kauna and kai, which means love and self respectively. Together, these words form the phrase kauna kai, a direct translation of one of life’s major driving forces: self-love.

Believing that one is valuable and worthy is the main principle of self-love. When a person starts to perceive himself worthy to achieve happiness, and to be given respect and dignity, this becomes a very powerful premise on how one sees life. This powerful impetus will enable individuals with self-worth to reach out to others and form a community that is empowered and goal-driven. Bearing a name that equates to such a very compelling concept, Batch Kauna Kai volunteers will be taking on this important challenge of being stewards of self-love, and to be ripples of positive change in the community.

Smiles captured during a fun-filled and engaging session during the Batch Kauna Kai orientation

With noteworthy batch names, the responsibility of creating a logo that will bear as much relevance as the batch name was tasked to Rick James “TJ” Monzon of LoveYourself Visual Communications. The logo was initially conceptualized to entrail a sun inside an equilateral triangle as the background, to symbolize warmth and fortitude. The color scheme used for the logo centered on the basic shades of red and orange to also exude the warmth of fire.

Batch Kauna Kai logo created by TJ Monzon
Rising up from the center of the logo is a mythical creature that Batch Kauna Kai volunteers will imbibe as their spirit animal: the mighty Phoenix. A legendary bird that has long been associated with fire, strength, and rebirth, the phoenix represents the volunteers and the traits they possess. As a bird of fire, it embodies the responsibility of providing warmth and light to others. As a fowl of rebirth, the phoenix teaches us that amidst challenges that we may encounter in our fight against HIV, one must never let anyone or anything douse the flames of passion that we have for the advocacy. Hand in hand, the batch name and logo represent self-love and an undying passion.

“Defend”, one of the many words used in the Verb Wars, an ice breaker during the Batch Kauna Kai orientation
Alongside the growing numbers of HIV cases is the increasing numbers of hearts and minds who work together to address this pressing global concern. LoveYourself continues to strive to be a community of volunteers whose aim is to not just create ripples of positive change, but to be the waves that nurture the value of loving one’s self as a way to engage and empower the community.

Feeling inspired? Join us in the advocacy by clicking here.
Gello is an infection control nurse who is utterly useless before his 2nd cup of coffee. Unbeknownst to most, he’s a closeted otaku and has a deep obsession with eggs. Despite being 30, he still secretly waits for the owl that will finally deliver his acceptance letter at Hogwarts.