Breaking the HIV stigma: LoveYourself ‘White House’ in Cebu

LOVEYOURSELF is a community of volunteers advocating for the importance of self-love above anything else. The community reaches out to people to remind them to be bolder in expressing themselves and to go on living joyful lives. First established in Manila, the LoveYourself White House opens its first branch in Cebu City.

LoveYourself wants to focus its attention to the increasing number of HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) cases in Central Visayas. While there are a lot of factors affecting the increasing number of HIV cases in the region, LoveYourself believes that one of it is the fear of the key-infected people with the disease’s stigma. That said, this has become the guiding force that built the LoveYourself White House.

The LoveYourself White House provides confidential HIV testing, treatment as well as education, counseling and life coaching. It guarantees the certainty of confidentiality as it strongly values privacy. The house is uniquely designed to give out a cozy ambience that feels like a home more than a clinic. The interiors of the house highlight a mix of a home setting and a cafeteria. It is like a co-working space where anyone can just come in and chill while they wait to be ready to take the test. The White House provides a variety of interesting books to choose from, movies from Netflix, unlimited access to WiFi and a freshly brewed coffee all for free. They also have different rooms designated for certain purposes such as for testing, counseling and private talks. It is a place where one could not fret about judgement and discrimination.

The organization’s senior director, Christopher Lagman, said that the White House is also a “safe space” where protection to prevent the escalation of HIV will be made available. These “safe spaces” are listed on Safe Spaces PH, a mobile application introduced by LoveYourself, for people to have easy access to condoms without going through the judging glares from some members of society. Lagman also disclosed that pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) will be made available for the very first time in Cebu, too. PrEP is a pill taken daily that is said to reduce the risk of acquiring HIV from sexual intercourse by more than 90 percent.

During the Cebu launch last April 27, the organization unveiled its newest brand ambassador, Karencitta, in addition to Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach and Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray.

The LoveYourself White House is located on 40 Don Julio Llorente St., Cebu City. It is open from Wednesday to Sunday, 12 to 9 p.m.


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