This March 2015, Positive Action Foundation Philippines, Inc. (PAFPI) will launch a regular free HIV testing and counseling. Any person who wishes to know his or her HIV will be welcomed by trained staff and volunteers at PAFPIs drop-in center in Dian St., Malate, Manila. After an in-depth and confidential inquiry, a blood sample will be taken and examined for HIV. Confirmatory testing will be submitted to Department of Health testing laboratories. The results will be explained thoroughly in a private one-on-one session.
“PAFPI has until now primarily focused on advocacy, education, treatment care and support for people living with HIV”, says Joshua Formentera, founding President of PAFPI. “We reach out through activities such as the Love Walk, which happened last February 13”. During the Love Walk event, PAFPI volunteers gave out flyers, provided information and answered questions about HIV and AIDS.
“But we also need to ensure people know their status”, Joshua points out. “This knowledge is a precondition for ensuring you receive the correct treatment. Today, the treatment not only saves your own life, but also that of your loved one, as it significantly reduces the risk of transmission,” he says.
The initiative is conducted in cooperation with the National AIDS/STI Prevention Control Program (NASPCP) of Department of Health. “It is important that our efforts are seen as a part of the national program on HIV and AIDS which aims at zero new infections, zero AIDS-related deaths and zero discrimination.”
When it comes to HIV infections, younger persons are a particularly vulnerable group. According to Rodel Navarra, PAFPI’s Chief Operating Officer, Filipinos belonging to the age group of 14 to 24 recorded the highest number of infections as compared to other age groups. “Those who are gathering up courage to take the HIV test will have a safe venue where they could receive proper guidance and counseling as well as emotional and psychological support” he said.
Navarra further shared that the testing and counseling will be handled the Young Key Affected Population or also called the YaKAP Movement, an arm of PAFPI aimed on empowering the young affected populated and young people living with HIV. “Our counselors from YaKAP are trained so they know how to handle any questions about the mode of transmission, how to address their fears and stigma associated with HIV.”
“We encourage you to take responsibility of your body and of your health. If you know that you have risky behaviors, engaging in unprotected casual sex and sharing needles, then take responsibility by availing of the free counseling and testing,” he added.
PAFPI was established in 1998 by PLWHAs and uninfected persons with a view to empower PLWHAs and their families. It is devoted into helping those Person Living With HIV/AIDS (PLWHAs) and their families in coping with their situation.
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