A NON-GOVERNMENT organization that advocates a non-discriminatory and gender responsive society in addressing sexual health and human rights issues has opened a human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) center that offers a safe space for all individuals who seek to have themselves checked for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections for free.
Miss Universe 2015 Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach and Kagay-an PLUS (Preserving Life, Uniting Society) Inc. led the grand launching of Oro Pia Lounge at the Gates 2 and 3 of Nuevas Building, 8th-21st Street, Nazareth, Cagayan de Oro City late last month.
Named after the beauty queen, the Oro Pia Lounge has its logo designed with a silhouette of Pia being the UNAids Goodwill ambassador for Asia and the Pacific.
"The HIV advocacy has a huge place in my heart, not only because of the people I know who are affected by it, but the epidemic is rapidly increasing and now affecting my fellow kababayan in Cagayan de Oro," Wurtzbach said.
"I'm grateful for my LoveYourself family together with our partner Kagay-an PLUS Inc. in naming the center after me, but more than that, the creation of Oro Pia is truly a timely and relevant response to curb the HIV epidemic in CDO," she added.
According to the Department of Health-Epidemiology Bureau, there is a total of 1,392 HIV cases in Northern Mindanao for the month of March 2019.
"We need to push our efforts towards reaching out to the key populations to know their HIV status, because there are people who are willing to help," said Enrique Niño Patricio, executive director of Kagay-an PLUS Inc.
"If they tested negative then, we will empower them to stay negative. But if they turned out positive, we are here to facilitate their HIV journey," he added.
The Kagay-an PLUS Inc. is a group committed to preserving lives and uniting society by ensuring equal and equitable access to sexual and reproductive health services and sensitizing the society to respect and advocate the basic human rights among people living with HIV and the LGBT community.
Oro Pia, run and operated by Kagay-an PLUS Inc., is open every Wednesday to Sunday from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m.
"We want to raise awareness and change people's mindsets to see sexual health services as a regular way of our lives, like a regular health routine. Its free and confidential," Wurtzbach said.