Despite several HIV activations and campaigns, many people are still confounded about the virus and its related topics. Due to misinformation and unprogressive thinking, stigma and discrimination still linger among Filipinos, especially key affected populations for HIV.

The toxic social conservatism of the Philippine society result to lack of awareness on sexual health issues remains high on Filipinos. This worsens the fear of Filipinos in availing HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STI) services. Without a doubt, it contributes to the rising HIV and STI cases in the country.

In 2020, the Department of Health reported that 8,058 individuals had been diagnosed with HIV. In December alone, a total of 198 individuals were diagnosed with clinical manifestations of advanced HIV infection at the time of testing. In the same report, the men-having-sex-with-men population remains the group with the highest new HIV cases in the country.

For further perspective, the HIV infection diagnosis has gone down as compared to previous years. However, this decrease in number was heavily impacted by COVID-19 restrictions and scare. Fewer are getting tested for in-facility testing and community-based screening.

The social context of conservatism and uninformed public health scare make it crucial for more relatable campaigns in promoting HIV awareness. Thus, LoveYourself and SKPA Philippines will launch a fun and light campaign to debunk myths and misconceptions on transmission, prevention, and treatment.

This campaign aims to veer away from the scientific discussion of HIV to keep the target populations engaged. The target audiences may have higher chances of absorbing and learning relevant information materials to them.

LoveYourself and SKPA Philippines reached out to key opinion leaders to increase discussions and engagements among untapped and passive audiences for HIV. The organizations have tapped the so-called “Baklang Kanal” or online personalities who are not afraid to speak out their minds for the causes they believed in, like HIV awareness.

In the persona of social media influencer – Inah Evans, comedian host – Peachy Roberts, and drag queen – ViƱas Deluxe, the three “baklang kanal” will be the face of the newest HIV awareness campaign under the #SaferNowPH banner. The organizations hope that many netizens can relate to the HIV advocacy since they are also long-time advocates for HIV awareness.

Catch the Baklang Kanals as they loudly voice out the importance of sexual health, particularly HIV education, to the Philippine society. #SaferNowPH: Debunking HIV Myths and Misconceptions will run from mid-February until mid-April 2021.

All the educational materials will be released on the SaferNow Philippines page on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Like and follow these social media pages to be updated with the latest in the HIV advocacy.

Text by LoveYourself iComm