HIV and AIDS awareness advocacy group LoveYourself, Inc. opened a new HIV testing clinic and community center on Feb. 17. The clinic, called LoveYourself Uni, is located along Taft-Buendia in Pasay City.
The clinic is part of the advocacy’s mission to provide free and confidential HIV testing and counseling, and promote safer sex practices, while also readying to offer treatment services within the year. LoveYourself also has another clinic, LoveYourself Anglo, in Mandaluyong.
The new clinic boasts a bigger facility to accommodate the growing number of clients availing of HIV testing services as well as HIV treatment services for newly diagnosed people living with HIV (PLHIV). It has a more accessible location, situated right beside the Light Rail Transit (LRT) Buendia station.
“We really wanted our new LoveYourself Uni clinic to be accessible to everyone. It’s just walking distance from the LRT which will let many more people to get tested, know their status and, very soon, seek treatment right away,” said LoveYourself Founder and Executive Director Ronivin Pagtakhan. He added it is an upscale version of their Malate, Manila clinic which closed in December.
The increasing number of young men with HIV is why the new clinic has a youthful vibe. There are five counseling rooms, one function room, and a large reception area for clients who wish to avail of the free services LoveYourself is offering.
In 2015 alone, LoveYourself served 16,062 new and regular clients of which 1,501 were HIV-positive — about 20% of the total number of diagnosed PLHIV in the country. Mr. Pagtakhan pointed out that the numbers indicate that “LoveYourself is hitting the right target and this goes to show that more people are aware and more people can be led to treatment which will curb the AIDS epidemic.”
The LoveYourself treatment program revolves around the 4S Model (Sensing, Synchronizing, Shifting, Sustaining) approach, which is designed to combine biomedical intervention as well as a psychosocial assistance.
The advocacy group is already providing HIV treatment services at its LoveYourself Anglo clinic, located along Shaw Blvd. in Mandaluyong City. The new clinic will offer the treatment services by second half of the year as it gains momentum. This venture, in partnership with Department of Health-Research Institute for Topical Medicine (DoH-RITM), is anchored on a more holistic mode of intervention in the fight against the rising number of HIV and AIDS cases.
LoveYourself believes its treatment approach can help newly diagnosed PLHIVs accept their HIV-positive status, gain courage and face the world with strength and confidence despite the prevailing stigma.
Meanwhile, LoveYourself, together with Pilipinas Shell Foundation, Inc. has provided free HIV testing and counseling to about 240 companies, schools, and communities in Luzon, 170 of which have formulated HIV and AIDS workplace policies and programs for their respective institutions.
Emphasizing and recognizing the need for high ethical standards in medical practice in order to save lives, the Head of the AIDS Research Group of the DoH-RITM, Dr. Rossana Ditangco noted that LoveYourself clinics and testing activities are open to minors who wish to get tested and know their HIV status.
Since LoveYourself is a 100% voluntary organization, the DoH-RITM provided, among others, training, diagnostic expertise and equipment, and medical staff; Pilipinas Shell Foundation, Inc. provides support for the outreach program and hotline communications of the advocacy.
The LoveYourself Uni clinic is open Wednesdays to Saturdays from noon to 7 p.m., and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. LoveYourself Anglo operates on the same schedule. For more information, visit www.loveyourself.ph or like and follow their media accounts: facebook.com/loveyourself.ph; and @LoveYourselfPh on Twitter and Instagram.