The Philippines has the fastest increasing rate of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection in the country, having 35 cases a day per latest Department of Health (DOH) data.
Augmenting the government’s national HIV program initiatives, LoveYourself, Inc. has recently introduced the availability of Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV in the country.
PrEP is a Food and Drug Administration-approved pill that prevents HIV infection by more than 90% when taken daily.
“In other countries like Australia, the PrEP program of their government is widespread that the rate of HIV infection in their country has significantly gone down, and we hope to replicate that scenario here in the Philippines. We made this bold step to provide an additional layer of protection against HIV to Filipinos, complementing their use of condoms and lubricants to prevent HIV infection,” said LoveYourself Executive Director Ronivin Pagtakhan.
A PrEP demonstration project conducted between 2017 and 2019 by LoveYourself in partnership with the DOH, Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, The Global Fund to Fight Against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, amfAR, UNAIDS, and the World Health Organization showed that this new HIV prevention method is safe and effective.
The research component of the demonstration project showed that participants of the program have experienced:
- No PrEP-related side effects
- No significant increase in sexually transmitted infections (STI)
- No seroconversions or no one from the project participants got HIV during the course of the study.
Under its PrEP Pilipinas (PrEPPY) program, LoveYourself currently offers the medicine at its three community centers, namely: LoveYourself Anglo in Mandaluyong, Victoria by LoveYourself in Pasay, and LoveYourself White House in Cebu. In the weeks to come, PrEPPY services will be also available to Lily by LoveYourself in Parañaque and LoveYourself Welcome in Manila.
The PrEPPY program has a nationwide rollout, which is being implemented through a partnership with Hi-Precision Diagnostics. Interested individuals can take the basic PrEPPY services at any Hi-Precision across the country, while results interpretation will be conducted through telemedicine, and once a client is eligible for PrEP, the medicine will be delivered to the client at their preferred address through a courier.
“By offering PrEP, we hope to be able to put an end to HIV. More than that, it is not just a pill: this is another empowerment tool for us to enjoy the life we deserve to live,” Pagtakhan said.
As a frontrunner in providing PrEP services in the country, LoveYourself also leads the KalasagNetwork, which is a group of PrEP providers promoting knowledge sharing for a wider implementation of the new HIV prevention method throughout the nation. For more details on the PrEPPY program, visit go.loveyourself.ph/PrEPPY.
LoveYourself is a community-based volunteer-driven non-profit organization that caters to a wide range of STI and HIV-related services, including education and prevention, testing and counseling, and treatment, support, and care. The organization also offers transgender health services and mental wellness initiatives.