The number of people living with human immunodeficiency virus or HIV has been steadily growing in the Philippines in recent years. According to the Department of Health (DOH), there were 9,200 Filipinos who tested positive for the virus, which is an increase of 18% from 2015 when there were 7,829 new cases reported.
Even more alarming, there had been an average of 30 new HIV cases every day for the first three months of 2017. As the Voice of America rightfully noted, the Philippines is one of the handful of countries that is bucking the worldwide trend of fewer reported cases of HIV infections. A closer look at the figures would reveal the following: most new cases are comprised by so-called MSMs (men having sex with other men) who are in the 15 to 24 and 25 to 34 age brackets.
Given these grim facts, it is imperative to further promote HIV and AIDS education campaigns and to encourage people to get tested especially if they are sexually active. Admittedly, I am part of the most vulnerable demographic group as far as the aforementioned statistics are concerned.
Hence, when the advocacy group Love Yourself announced online that it will once again organize free HIV testing last May 28, I decided to go. I arrived at Victoria’s Court-Malate roughly an hour before the 7PM cutoff. I was #316 in the registration, which gives you an idea about the number of men who flocked to the place to get tested. This is just the second time in my life that I will be tested. The first one when the Take The Test Project organized a free testing in the Quezon City Hall several years ago.
After atending a brief talk on HIV and AIDS by a volunteer named Moddy in the third floor, we were asked to proceed to another part of the hotel where we’ll stay before it’s our turn to get tested. While waiting, Love Yourself volunteers demonstrated how to properly wear a condom … using two fingers (why not an eggplant? LOL).
They were still in the middle of the activity when we were called since it’s already our turn. The counselor assigned to me was Ms Maria Juana Co. Anyway, below are six reasons why you should get tested as soon as possible:
1) Although there are tons of information about HIV and AIDS already available online, it is still helpful to engage with a trained counselor once in a while.
2) The process is totally anonymous! No one asked for our names, ever.
3) The results can be obtained in just 15 minutes.
4) This will give you and your partner peace of mind, especially if you are sexually active.
5) It is free!
6) If you happen to be reactive, the earlier you know, the better.
By the way, Client #1185-316 was found to be non-reactive, thankfully!