TestMNL: Fighting the stigma attached to HIV

Written by: Shin Kitane/Saturday, Mar 04, 2017 01:27 AM

Header Image from LoveYourself website

Conversations surrounding the LGBT community still remain controversial in most cultures today, especially issues surrounding LGBT sexuality and awareness. Even in 2017, HIV testing and living with HIV are still surrounded by a stigma that prevents people from seeking and extending support. This shouldn't be the case, and because we believe in breaking barriers and challenging public discomfort, we were more than happy to attend LoveYourself's Date Auction Party last February 25, entitled Cherry Poppin'. LoveYourself is a non-government organization (NGO) that provides free and confidential HIV testing, counseling, education, and treatment. 


Cherry Picking for a cause. Photo by VJ Santos

As an effort to spread awareness and promote a sex-positive approach towards HIV testing, LoveYourself launched TestMNL, a campaign that aims to reduce, if not eliminate, the stigma on and spread of HIV in the Philippines. The event was also held in time for the People Power Revolution's anniversary in the Philippines as a symbolic gesture for the power of unity and understanding amidst difficult issues, such as the fight against HIV.


The event also featured creations by Don Cristobal and Jaggy Glarino on the runway. Photo from LoveYourself

According to LoveYourself's executive director Ronivin Pagtakhan, the organization is reinforcing the HIV advocacy through TestMNL, which is an adaptation of the TestBKK campaign conducted in Bangkok, Thailand. Pagtakhan also stresses the need to fill the information gap through interventions such as TestMNL in order to reach out to "vulnerable populations" such as the youth and males who have sex with males. 

To raise funds for the advocacy, twelve bachelors were auctioned off as dates to around 430 bidders. Among these bachelors were celebrity photographer BJ Pascual and TV chef Jeremy Favia. All proceeds from the event will help fund LoveYourself's HIV awareness campaign and testing operations, including the opening of two new community centers in Manila.


Dinner date or coffee date? Photo by VJ Santos.


BJ Pascual is all smiles as he racks up bids for the cause. Photo from LoveYourself


Jeremy Favia makes the crowd swoon with his boyish charm. Photo from LoveYourself


Break barriers with us this March. #UnboxMe


About Shin Kitane
Shin Kitane writes to remember and believes that words have the power to heal, inspire, and move others. She dreams of a world where men and women are treated equally, where race, gender, and religion are not measures of one's worth in society. She is also a book-hoarder and a firm believer in re-watching Mean Girls and Harry Potter multiple times a year. Follow her misadventures @shinkitane on social media.
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