This year in a nutshell has been a challenging for all of us. However through the rollercoaster of emotions that LoveYourself’s volunteers and staff together with its faithful partners continue to heed the call for the HIV, mental health, and transgender health advocacy. This year may not have gone as planned, but we remained steadfast in adapting through the confusion and changes brought about by the different stages of the community quarantine.

A LoveYourself volunteer handing out relief goods to some evacuees at Santa Terersita in Batangas.

With every challenge that 2020 threw, LoveYourself was able to be agile and responsive to the needs of communities around the Philippines. When the Taal Volcano erupted in January, we were quick to mobilize our resources and efforts to provide support the communities affected by the disaster. Not only through relief items, but with much needed medical attention as well. We did the same when typhoons Rolly, Siony, and Ulysses struck Luzon. Together with our dear Champion Community Centers network, we were able to help uplift the lives of our fellow Filipinos.

Delivery rider for pioneer programs Xpress, iCON, and SelfCare
Photo by Edgar Bagasol Jr.

When the Philippine government recognized COVID-19 as a threat and instituted a nationwide community quarantine, we did not retreat from our found duties to our clients living with HIV. We were quick to implement our XPress Refill program that delivered antiretroviral treatment right to our clients’ doorstep all over the country. With volunteer riders, coordinators, and callers, we were able to help our clients maintain their undetectable status and ease their anxiety regarding their medication.

Moreover, we also launched the Interactive Consultation (iCON) platform, where our clients can schedule a tele-medicine consultation with our doctors for concerns regarding their reactions to anti-retroviral drugs, to queries on starting horemone replacement therapy. Wherever our clients find themselves in, they can always find a way to connect to LoveYourself brand of care.

Recognizing the impact of the community quarantine on the mental wellness of our nation, the Flourish Circle also budded its first online implementation of the Flourish Circle Program. Ultimately this provided much needed psychosocial support for people experiencing mental health challenges during our limited connection. Currently, the Flourish Circle is on its second cycle, staying strong in its dedication to provide a community-led option in processing emotions and developing life skills.

Our events and communications committee also did not stop in engaging fellow volunteers and the community we serve. Carrying the message of self-worth in mind, LoveYourself volunteers were able to highlight the importance of remaining vigilant of our HIV status, preventing HIV, and the different community initiatives for mental health. Amid the pandemic, we were the first to push our agenda forward as an equally important pandemic to manage. Our online concerts with our ambassadors, we held Rise As One in April, Light Up in May with Project Red Ribbon, and TuloyPH: A Community in Symphony in October with MentalHealthPH. We continued to engage our community with stimulating talks in Flourish 101, ATBPride Talks, HIV Prevention Month, and the #SaferNow Summit. Truly, LoveYourself has made sure its advocacies are present in conversations on social media.

In August, we launched the first ever HIV Prevention Month, which introduced HIV Combination Prevention as a means of preventing HIV transmission. The month-long campaign emphasized that condoms and lubricants, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), and adherence to anti-retroviral therapy work better when used in conjunction with each other. In 2021, HIV Prevention Month will be celebrated in July, following the proclamation of the second week of July as Infection Prevention and Control Week. In the coming years, we hope to see an empowered community of peers who can choose their own combination of HIV prevention methods that fit their lifestyle.

As thought leaders in the HIV advocacy, we didn’t only sustain our services and programs, but innovated it as well. This 2020, we were able to launch our PEP program, SelfCare – our HIV self-testing program, Luxecare, and our upcoming self Hepatitis C screening program. It’s thanks to our robust research data that we were able to roll out such novel programs here in the Philippines. With such research-based initiatives, LoveYourself became a prevalent name in the International AIDS Conference in June. 

The amazing feats that we’ve reached this year is testament to the tenacity and perseverance of our human spirit to dare, care, and share. On its 10th anniversary, LoveYourself will offer 9 new partner community centers all over the Philippines, scale up our Prep PEP Programs, combination prevention campaigns via #SaferNowPh year 2, more offerings from LoveYourself TV with Owl Right Studios and Spaces MNL, expansion of the TransHealth program and more innovations.