Cognizant of the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, LoveYourself, Inc. strengthens the promotion of its HIV awareness campaign with its newest ambassador, Mister Gay World Philippines 2016 1st runner-up John Bench T. Ortiz.
As a fitness coach, Ortiz advised that “Health is wealth. Relatively speaking, sexual health is very important and we, the LGBT community and the larger society, need to be more knowledgeable on this aspect.” Ortiz serves as one of the faces of the LoveYourself Incognito 2.0, which is the country’s largest community-based HIV screening that is free, anonymous and fast.
Through the Mister Gay World Philippines Organization (MGWPO), Ortiz supported LoveYourself and its partners, the Department of Health-Research Institute for Tropical Medicine and Pilipinas Shell Foundation, Inc., in encouraging individuals to undergo HIV testing on 27 November at Victoria Court Malate in Manila by signing up at go.loveyourself.ph/incognito.
LoveYourself Executive Director Ronivin G. Pagtakhan said “We aim for more movers in the community, who will rally behind our causes towards enriching one’s self-worth to eradicate the stigma on HIV.” Meanwhile, MGWPO Board of Director Ryan D. Soto said that their organization uses its profile and its victors to champion these causes.
During his stint at the 2016 MGWP pageant, Ortiz espoused the platform #CoachForEquality to propagate the message of fitness, sexual health and gender equality in empowering the LGBT community, which is hounded by the stigma on HIV and AIDS.
This 24 year-old lad from Tayug, Pangasinan uses his coaching prowess to fight the stigma on HIV saying that “If more people will try to understand us [the LGBT Community], then we can educate them to be more knowledgeable about the issue and we will be able to stop the spread of HIV.”
Identifying “fear of acceptance” as a major factor for Filipinos to get HIV test, Ortiz emphasized that “It is okay to know your HIV status, because there is someone who will be there to help.”
He also informed that if people turned out to be HIV positive, “there is proper medicine and proper care for them to enjoy living their lives to the fullest.”
By winning 1st runner-up in the 2016 MGWP, Ortiz pledged to influence more people by being active in giving thoughts and sound information on how to get tested to know one’s HIV status.
Ortiz said, “I will post pictures of any activities related about the advocacy for them to become more comfortable in knowing their status.”
Earlier, LoveYourself, Inc. sought a partnership with MGWPO to eradicate the social stigma on the disease and its relevant interventions.
MGWPO is a non-profit organization supporting the fight against sexual prejudice, injustice and equality for the LGBT community across the world. The organization aims to modernize the image towards gays and break all stereotypes from the public perception. It also aims to continue the advocacy of HIV/AIDS awareness and treatment assistance for everyone.
LoveYourself is a non-profit organization conducting HIV testing, counseling and peer education founded on enriching an individual’s self-worth. LoveYourself can be reached through its official website at www.loveyourself.ph, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/loveyourself.ph/ and on Twitter at @LoveYourselfPh and Instagram at @loveyourself.ph.
Text by Bet Domingo