Saturday, September 07, 2019

LoveYourself Cebu Welcomes Batch Dasig Volunteers


By Shiela Ursabia


LoveYourself Cebu conducted its orientation for the fourth and biggest batch of volunteers on August 18, 2019 Sunday at Qualfon Building, Skyrise 3, IT Park, Cebu City.


More than 70 volunteers out of the total 144 volunteers in LoveYourself White House attended the said orientation bearing the name Batch Dasig. It is a Cebuano term which means "Encourage", as LoveYourself Cebu continues to strengthen their presence in the local Cebuano scene and encourage people to have themselves tested for HIV.

“Life-changing,” as one volunteer, Jude Nitcha, coined it, the orientation was full of informative and insightful ideas spearheaded by LoveYourself Recruitment Team, and facilitated by Jan Vincent Estrada, Head of LoveYourself Cebu.


The fourth batch's logo symbolizes the phoenix representing the sun or warmth that they will bring to the group. Batch Dasig aims to motivate people to fight the stigma and rebuild their life to be better than before.

Bringing with them enthusiasm and fresh ideas, Batch Dasig warmly welcomes exciting ventures as they join the organization and sustain the energy of the first three Batches — Amuma, Bitoon and Kalayo in achieving its goal.

LoveYourself White House in Cebu offers free and confidential HIV testing, counselling, and treatment to all no matter the age, race, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression. It is located at 40 Don J. Llorente Street, Capitol Site, Cebu City. To be part of the organization, you can sign-up at go.loveyourself.ph/cebuvolunteer or contact  +63 927-873-7575




Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Triangle of Self Care: Chronicles of Correct and Consistent Condom Use

By Jacob

The wet season has finally come and as it pours isn’t it nice to stay indoors, relax with the person we’re comfortable with and just Netflix and chill?. But it’s important to keep in mind that sex is not just about pleasure, but also health. That’s why practicing a healthy sexual lifestyle  is in your best interest as it keeps you and your partner safe.

LoveYourself created a healthy sexual lifestyle guide called the “Triangle of Self-Care” or TSC. It’s comprised of three easy steps: (1) Timely testing and treatment, (2) Safe and satisfying sex, and (3) Correct and consistent use of condoms. It’s simple, effective, and will take you a long way in your sexual conquest.

For most it’s not easy to get themselves tested for HIV  because of the stigma attached to it. But we need to know our status so we can do what we need to move on. We can get tested again after the window period and continue safer sex options if negative, or pursue treatment and aim to be undetectable if positive.

Photo by Jacob
David's Change of Heart

“Stealthing” is a trick used by some men where they remove the condom during intercourse to engage in unprotected sex without the knowledge or consent of his partner. David (Not his real name), a 27-year-old salesman used to stealth all the time with the men he meets on dating apps 

He preffered bareback sex back then because he says that the “friction” feels much better. Plus the added excitement of doing it secretly was like the cherry on the top for him. 

But all this change during December last year when he first got tested after two years of engaging in non consensual unprotected sex. He says that while he was in the waiting room he panicking deep inside. 

“It took a lot of courage to get myself tested. And it really scared me at that moment because I thought of all the possible times where I could’ve been exposed. Not to mention how I tricked my partners. I just realized just how much risk I exposed myself into for pleasure!” David said. 

He then go on to say that he realized that all the pleasure that he got from his unprotected sex was not worth the paranoia. 

When he got his result he couldn’t breathe and cried out of happiness because he was non-reactive. Since then David did not only promised to regularly get tested but also to change his ways for his safety and that of his partner. 

“That experience (getting tested for the first time) was like a slap to my face because it made me realized so much and it really did change me” David said. 

For most people, practicing a healthy sexual life is brought about realizing it’s importance ourselves. David’s own experience led him to finally get tested and learned the importance of doing it regularly. He realized the high risk he was putting himself and his partners, so he chose to walk a different path that would still satisfy his cravings and put his mental and physical health on guard - with condoms.

Photo from https://www.thematlethbridge.com/sexual-health--wellness-blog/image-safe-sex-is-for-everybody
Putting It All Together

All these people went through their own journey that made them realize their own reasons to take care of themselves more than they used to. Safe Spaces is a project of LoveYourself with partner establishments to provide free condoms to anyone who needs them. Launched in 2017, the app-based program aims to make safer sex more accessible in judgement-free spaces. Download the Safe Spaces PH app is available on Google Play store and App Store for download. For more information, one may also visit the Safe Spaces PH website.
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Jacob is a front lines kind of man. In my advocacy and passion I've always been vocal and one to take action. As an openly gay man who is also a marvel fanatic I live by the words "Mutant and proud".

Monday, August 26, 2019

CineSpectra 2019 Short Film Festival Rolls Out This Week!

By Carlos Diego A. Rozul


Witness the CineSpectra 2019 Short Film Festival's ten finalists! Themed as Your Judgement, Their Life, the collection of short films feature stories of people living with HIV (PLHIV) made by budding local film directors mentored by the Directors Guild of the Philippines Inc. You can catch this free film viewing on August 26 2019 - 5:00pm and August 27, 2019 at 12:00nn and 6:30pm at Ayala Malls Trinoma Cinema 6, Quezon City, and from August 28-30, 2019 at the Cinematheque Centre Manila, Iloilo, and Davao.

Among the 97 entry submissions, the following were chosen to develop and produce the 5-minute short films showcased in the festival:
  • “A” by Roylan Modina (Manila City)
  • “Alex & Aki” by Dexter Paul De Jesus (Quezon City)
  • “Ang Gasgas Na Plaka Ni Lolo Bert” by Janina Gacosta (Mandaluyong City)
  • “Doon Sa Isang Sulok” by Alfredo Tapang, Jr. (Quezon City)
  • “Guhit” by Kyle Jumayne Francisco (Pampanga)
  • “Ikaw Din?!” by John Aaron Alsol (Bulacan)
  • “Panihapon” by Christopher Hubahib (Cebu)
  • “Quieter is Louder” by Kathleen Gonzales (Bacoor)
  • “Taym Pers, Pers Taym” by Ma. Ceazara Vidallo (Quezon City)
Having diverse representation of HIV in media is a large step toward normalizing the conversation surrounding HIV testing, prevention, and PLHIV wellness. Spearheaded by the EON Foundation, Film Development Council of the Philippines, and LoveYourself Inc. the film makers were oriented on the basics of sexual orientation, gender identity and expression (SOGIE)  to ensure tasteful conceptualization of the films.


CineSpectra 2019 will also hold a special free film screening of the iWant series Mga Batang Poz written by Segundo Matias Jr. and directed by Chris Martinez which follows the story of four adolescents living with HIV on August 27, 2019 4:00pm at the Ayala Malls Trinoma Cinema 6. The Cannes Film Festival 2017 Award Winning film Beats Per Minute will also be shown during the festival on August 26, 2019 1:00pm, and August 27, 2019 1:30pm at the Ayala Malls Trinoma Cinema 6.


Friday, August 23, 2019

Beat The Bugs: Outsmarting Sexually Transmitted Infections

By Francis Dimaano and Raymond Manahan

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Illustration of Baceria Retrieved from: https://www.needpix.com/photo/1553464/clipart-clipart-illustration-graphic-cartoon-germs-bacteria-bacterial-virus
Take self-care to the next level.

The Triangle of Self Care doesn’t only apply to HIV. It’s first point, Timely Testing and Treatment is especially relevant to a vast range of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs). LoveYourself is now paving the wider road towards a healthier sex life as it offers STI testing, consultation, and treatment services.

STI Testing

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends the use of techniques and procedures that test multiple STIs at once. This makes sure that the treatment to be prescribed completely addresses all possible infections.

Clients who get tested for HIV at LoveYourself Anglo and Uni get tested for Hepatitis B and Syphilis as well. This is because these STIs have the same modes of transmission as HIV, and are also initially asymptomatic.

Hepatitis B is a liver infection which is also commonly transmitted through unprotected sex. Most people with Hepatitis B do not have symptoms and therefore, do not know that they already have it.

Syphilis is a type of STI which early stage is usually characterized by painless sores on or around the genital area, anus, or mouth. Because of its similarity to other STIs, a test is the best way to know if a person has syphilis.

Another type of STI tested at LoveYourself Uni is Gonorrhea.

Gonorrhea or tulo, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), is an STI that infects both males and females. When symptoms are present, it is usually characterized by a white, yellow, or green discharge from the genitalia. Gonorrhea can infect a person’s mouth, genitalia, and anus.

LoveYourself Uni offers free gonorrhea testing for males assigned at birth. People experiencing genital discharge can walk-in and get tested at this community center for free. This service is being done under the supervision of the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) through the Enhanced Gonococcal Antimicrobial Surveillance Program (EGASP).

STI Consultation

Image result for germs
Bacteria illustration retrieved from:
https://www.publicdomainpictures.net/en/
view-image.php?image=127967&picture=germs
Self care in the context of STIs always involve a conversation with an expert. Getting the right information empowers us to make sound decisions and plans to manage our sexual health.

LoveYourself is committed to providing safe spaces for people to access the necessary information and improve their sexual health. Two of its community centers, LoveYourself Anglo and Victoria by LoveYourself, offer STI assessment services for males assigned at birth for a just and reasonable fee.

When a client tests reactive to Syphilis at LoveYourself Anglo, they are referred to the medical team for a scheduled consultation. This is where a treatment plan is established, and the medication is prescribed.

You can schedule an appointment at LoveYourself Anglo on Thursdays and Fridays, 4:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. by visiting us at the community center. Six slots are available on each day. The center accepts clients who tested reactive to an STI in other clinics or diagnostic centers, as well as those who suspect they have been exposed to an STI. Consultation for other STIs such as gonorrhea, chlamydia, and herpes simplex virus are also offered here.

Victoria by LoveYourself also offers STI consultation for clients who have been diagnosed with an STI, and those who suspect they have been exposed.

Consultation fee at LoveYourself Anglo and Victoria by LoveYourself starts at PHP 300.
Victoria by LoveYourself accepts walk-in clients from Saturdays to Wednesdays between 12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Dr. Ryel of LoveYourself Uni consulting on Gonorrhea testing
Treatment
STIs grow smarter as more people misuse medication. Medical researchers are now on the move to get ahead of the race against drug resistance, but we all have a role in the fight against STIs.
If a person tests positive for an STI, getting professional medical help and taking medications as prescribed not only effectively manages the infection; it also helps prevent STIs from developing resistance against existing medications and treatment.
Along with consultation and testing, treatment packages are also offered in LoveYourself community centers:
LoveYourself Anglo
For those who tested reactive to Syphilis, once medication has been prescribed, the treatment will be administered according to the schedule set during the consultation. Treatment packages are offered at this community center as well.
Treatment for clients with other STIs such as gonorrhea, chlamydia, and herpes simplex virus is also offered, in accordance to the consultation done with the doctor.
Treatment schedules are also available on Thursdays and Fridays, from 4:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Victoria by LoveYourself
According to the management plan established during the consultation, treatment will also be administered. Medication will be obtained by the client from an external source.
Treatment schedules are also from Saturdays to Wednesdays between 12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
LoveYourself Uni
If a client turns out positive for gonorrhea infection, they are prescribed with medication, and treatment is administered once the medication is purchased from a pharmacy.
LoveYourself, through its core values, “Iniingatan, Inaalagaan, at Inaasikaso”, aims to empower people, especially MSMs, in outsmarting STIs by consulting, getting tested, and accessing treatment.
Taking care of yourself should not be too difficult. There are safe spaces you can visit to get basic information about sexually transmitted infections. Take a step in giving yourself the love you deserve. Visit one of our community centers today. Learn more by clicking here.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Embracing All Women

By Yuki Asato and Carlos Diego A. Rozul


In the 1980s, women in the Philippines had a pivotal turn in society. Countless women joined in the movement to make the Philippines a more inclusive country among the many rallies against the administration at the time.

Before the women's movement, queer women felt ignored. Lesbian concerns were being tucked under women's and feminist studies, which were heterosexual in nature at the time. Even during the gay movement, lesbian women were seen only as female versions of homosexual men. Discontented by being silent, the lesbian community wanted their voices to be heard among the fight against the dictatorship. Eventually, the underground women's organization MAKIBAKA released a position paper that included sexual orientation as part of the gender equality movement.

The inclusion of the queer women in the conversation about equal rights for women spurred a cascade of change. Later in the 1990s, gender and sexuality was a major concern in the women's movement leading to the formation of several political groups that centered around the matter.
Disney Aguila, Trans Deaf

Today, ensuring that the Philippines is a safe place for all women is still among the country's top priorities. With the Safe Streets, Workplaces, and Public Spaces Act of 2017 signed into law, gender-based harassment is now punishable. With the development in the Philippine society, we are now moving towards pursuing the Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression (SOGIE) Bill to become a law.

However there are times that public restrooms, train stations, and even pubs and bars have become a battleground for members of the LGBTQ community. What happened to Ms. Gretchen Diez, and is still happening to other members of the trans community was not only heartbreaking but harrowing. These are the moments that empower our community to come together and stand for what is fair and just.

We need to create a safe Philippines where all of its citizens and residents -whatever their sex or  SOGIE. This can start with a safe space to perform human bodily functions.

Inclusivity is not simply accepting one sect of society into the mainstream. It extends to acknowledging that different factors intersect and affect access to services and facilities that were made for everyone. It involves listening to marginalized communities and working towards equal rights and quality of services.

References
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Yuki describes himself as a social media connoisseur, gym rat, and a geek.
Carlos Diego is an HIV counselor and the Head of Editorial for LoveYourself. Outside of volunteering, he is a clinical audiologist and a registered psychometrician. He aims to facilitate a deeper meaning to health by discussing the importance of aural, sexual, and mental health.