CEBU CITY, Philippines – Cebu kicked off on Saturday, November 23, National HIV Testing Day, dubbed as Know Your Status (KYS) and Play (#KYSandPlay2019), with free, fast, and confidential HIV testing and community activities.
Cebu province is among the provinces with consistently high rates of HIV infection. Cebu recorded 69 cases of HIV infection during the month of May alone, and a total of 333 infections from January to May 2019.
The following sites will hold free screenings until 7 pm:
Love Yourself White House
40 J Llorente Street
Barangay Capitol Site, Cebu City
Atma Prema Community Center
M-5 Orchid Street, El Dorado Subdivision
Barangay Banilad, Cebu City
The Outlets at Pueblo Verde
Barangay Poblacion Park
Barangay Poblacion, Talisay City
Sunflower KTV, Park Mall
Barangay Tipolo, Mandaue City
Tara! Let’s make your weekend extra more special.— LoveYourself Cebu (@LoveYourselfCEB) November 23, 2019
Give time and love to yourself by visiting us on the following KYS and Play sites. It’s FREE, PRIVATE, and CONFIDENTIAL.#LoveYourselfCebu #AlterCebu #CebuAlter #LoveYourselfWhiteHouse pic.twitter.com/vYi7YeYVVP
The province continues to see an increase in reported HIV infections. In 2016, health advocates in Cebu raised the HIV epidemic as a campaign issue. (READ: Cebu to presidential bets: What will you do about HIV epidemic?)
President Rodrigo Duterte signed Republic Act 11166 or the HIV/AIDs policy act, to address the epedemic, in December 2018. (READ: Duterte signs law strengthening HIV, AIDS health services)
The law orders the Department of Health (DOH) to establish a program to provide free and accessible treatment and medication to all persons living with HIV and AIDS. Public and private hospitals are to become treatment hubs.
It also allows minors between 15 and 17 to get tested without parental consent.
But community advocates in the region pushed for more Filipinos to get tested because of the rise in the number of infections.
DOH data gathered January and May showed that the most common mode of transmission of HIV in the Central Visayas was male-to-male sexual intercourse with 192 cases; followed by men who have sex with men and women with 92 cases, then male-to-female sex with 54 cases; and transmission through infected syringes with 50 cases reported.
The Bureau of Jail Management and Penology was also concerned over the rising HIVs rates in jails in the Central Visayas, mainly due to needle sharing. (READ: HIV an emerging concern in Central Visayas jails – BJMP)
#KYSandPlay2019 is led by LoveYourself, Incorporated and the Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA), in partnership with several community-based organizations (CBOs) across the country that provide HIV-related services to promote HIV advocacies and sustainable reproductive and sexual health practices.
This nationwide event is also supported by Pilipinas Shell Foundation Incorporated, and AIDS Healthcare Foundation.
Love Yourself also provides counseling and health consultations for clients who may need it.
For those unable to make it for testing on Saturday, Love Yourself Inc. and Vicente Sotto Memoral Medical Center, both in Cebu City, provide free testing yearound. – Rappler.com
John Tan Sitchon is a Rappler intern from the University of San Jose Recoletos in Cebu City