(GAD News) Kapampangan NGO joins HIV mass testing

MABALACAT CITY — A non-government organization advocating awareness on the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS), recently participated in the first-ever nationwide community-led free HIV mass testing.

The Juan Posi+ive Movement (JPM), based in Barangay Lakandula, Mabalacat City, was among the eight advocacy groups which partnered with Love Yourself, Inc. for the conduct of the confidential HIV testing dubbed as “This Is Me: Brave and Free”.

Said activity primarily aims to raise the public’s knowledge and awareness regarding HIV-AIDS and encourage them to act on it, thereby reducing stigma and rejection for persons living with HIV (PLHIV).

JPM’s founder, Wayne Baniqued, shared that the organization was established to create a support system that will help reduce stigma and help PLHIVs retain their self-esteem, self-worth and self-efficacy.

“By participating in this activity, we want to gather fellow warriors in the advocacy for a stronger and resounding voice to promote self-empowerment in taking care of one’s sexual health, as a prelude to curbing the HIV epidemic in the country,” Baniqued said.

He added that with the increasing number of PLHIV, the activity aims to inspire unity in diversity, and bring the message of love, acceptance and finding strength and courage to overcome fear, which are often associated with HIV and AIDS.

The program was also supported by the Department of Health (Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, Pilipinas Shell Foundation Inc., Save the Children, AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), Philippine NGO Council on Population Health and Welfare, Inc. (PNGOC), AusAID Australian Aid Program and HIVOS Humanist Institute for Development Cooperation. (CLJD/MJLS-PIA 3 with Sophia Velasquez, intern)