Monday, November 30, 2015

Tamang Panahon for Free and Confidential HIV/STI Testing

Wazzup Pilipinas!

The steady rise of HIV infections, with an average of 22 Filipinos daily now get infected, signifies the right timing to strengthen the advocacy that LoveYourself, Inc., among other groups, has been crusading to prevent the epidemic from blowing out of proportion.

On 29 November (Sunday), LoveYourself, in partnership with Department of Health-Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (DOH-RITM), held its second HIV Screening Day for this year dubbed as “Ito ang Tamang Panahon: Free and Confidential HIV Test” at Victoria Court, North EDSA in Caloocan City.

“Testing is the first line of defense to curb the spread of HIV and it is just the right time to grab opportunities like this free and confidential HIV screening of LoveYourself,” Ms. Queen International 2015 Trixie Maristela said. She also said that this has been one of her advocacies even before she became beauty titlist to support anti-discrimination and erase stigma to and within the LGBT Community.

Apart from capability to detect strains of HIV, the LoveYourself testing also includes results for other sexually transmitted infections (STI), such as, Hepatitis B and Syphilis. Likewise, counselling and peer education will also be conducted during the screening day to raise awareness about sexual health, particularly about knowing the basics of how HIV is transmitted and acquired.

“We constantly encourage everyone to avail of the free and confidential tests LoveYourself offers; so that when a client finally found the right time, we are there ready to help,” said Ronivin Pagtakhan, founder and executive director of LoveYourself. He also reiterated that regular testing is one of the most effective prevention measures to control the spread of the virus.

In September of this year alone, the DOH reported 692 cases of new HIV infections, which is comparatively higher than the figure in August with 598 cases. When these cases are left untreated, HIV will severely weakens their immune system and may lead to Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome or AIDS stage, wherein the body can no longer fight off various diseases and opportunistic infections.

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