Pia Wurtzbach: Get tested for HIV regularly

By Leilani Junio

August 10, 2017, 12:04 am

MANILA, Aug. 9 -- 2015 Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach on Wednesday emphasized the need to know one’s HIV status and what to do when he or she tests positive for AIDS.

“Dapat regular ang pagpapa-testing. Hindi isa lang. Depende sa lifestyle ng tao (Testing should be done on a regular basis, and not just once. It depends on a person’s lifestyle),” said Wurtzbach as she got herself tested for the virus for the second time. Her first was in New York.

The test was done at the Kalayaan Room of SM Aura in Taguig shortly before the launch of the Love Gala event and the Ripple Awards -- part of her continuing advocacy to check the spread of HIV/AIDS beyond her reign as Miss Universe.

"These projects are simply called Progressive Information Awareness Campaign or Project PIA," Wurtzbach said, noting that with these projects, she hopes to create awareness of HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted diseases (STD), and sexual orientation and gender identity and expression (SOGIE).

She said she intends to use the social media power campaign #Live2Luv in targeting the key affected population and the general public.

Once it is rolled out, she said, the campaign will promote HIV testing in community centers and social hygiene clinics in the hope of making HIV tests regular medical exams.

"Love Gala", to be held on World AIDS Day on Dec. 1, will bring together individuals and organizations that support the HIV/AID cause for a night of music, fundraising and the presentation of the Ripple Awards to 10 honorees who have made inspiring contributions to the advocacy.

The beauty queen said that HIV tests are free of charge and one only needs to go to a testing center without having to worry about fees.

Meanwhile, Taguig City Mayor Lani Cayetano, who graced the event, thanked Wurtzbach for choosing Taguig to be her partner on this advocacy.

“It was really an honor. You inspired me to improve my craft even more," said Cayetano, adding that as national chairperson of the League of Cities of the Philippines, she would encourage fellow local chief executives to spread the advocacy across the country.

According to the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), while the Asia Pacific has made substantial progress in responding to HIV, it is currently lagging behind global trends and young people are particularly at risk of HIV.

Peter Zimmbodilion Mosende, country director of UNAIDS Philippines, has noted a 140-percent rise in HIV cases in the country from 2010 to 2016.

"We need innovative solutions to increase resources, that is why we make partnerships with the private and community sectors," he said, adding that through the Department of Health (DOH), HIV funding has increased by 70 percent.

Last May, the health department reported 1,098 newly diagnosed people living with HIV, 325 or 30 percent of whom were youths aged 15 to 24, while 554 or more than half were from the 25-34 age group. (PNA)