A Closer Look at SKPA Philippines’ Achievements

By March 20, 2023 March 29th, 2023 SKPA

Yanyan Araña,
LoveYourself Inc., Philippines

As the SKPA-2 Program enters its second year of implementation,
LoveYourself, one of the SKPA-2 sub-recipients in the Philippines, will be exiting the SKPA-2 family.

As part of this edition’s newsletter, we would like to shine a spotlight on LoveYourself
and highlight some of their achievements accomplished during their time with SKPA.

Since 2018, LoveYourself in partnership with the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO) implemented the Sustainability of HIV Services for Key Population in Asia (SKPA) Program in the Philippines. SKPA Philippines had a goal of providing not just community system strengthening but also introducing advocacy, campaigns, innovations, and support towards sustainability of the services of Community-based Organization partners. Over the years, LoveYourself created national programs and campaigns on awareness and promotion of combination prevention, treatment as prevention, and other innovations.

Yearly, SKPA Philippines strategically launched several campaigns, one of which is the first-ever National HIV Prevention Month (NHPM) celebration in the Philippines. Experts from different HIV advocacy groups served as guest speakers in the webinars conducted and various influencers and HIV advocates participated during the culmination activity. This campaign gathered almost 5 million online impressions and reach through the SKPA Philippines social media platforms. In the same year, the first-ever #SaferNowPH Summit was also conducted. It was an online conference promoting innovations in HIV prevention and was hosted by Miss Trans Global, Mela Habijan. Together with global ambassadors, advocates unite to flatten the HIV curve. Catriona Gray, Pia Wurtzbach, and international experts gathered to advance local efforts during the World AIDS Day 2020 commemoration celebration.

In 2021, LoveYourself, SKPA Philippines, and the PROTECTS Project, together with the #SaferNowPH movement, campaigned for the recognition of the game-changers in the HIV and AIDS landscape of the country by restaging the Ripple Awards. This award – dubbed as the most anticipated award-giving body for HIV movers in the Philippines and beyond – is back on its third instalment despite the persisting COVID-19 pandemic. In support of the event, global HIV advocacy ambassador Pia Wurtzbach said, “Together, let’s celebrate the life, love, and selfless service of the HIV champions in the Philippines. Now more than ever, let’s continue to create ripples of positive change in the community.”

In the same year, SKPA Philippines also launched the #BreakFree Campaign. Leading this clarion call for women to break free include Miss World 2013 Megan Young and Miss Trans Global 2020 Mela Habijan. Together with the community volunteers, Megan and Mela headline Transcend by LoveYourself’s women empowerment segment of its latest campaign, #BreakFreePH. This campaign hoped to inspire ciswomen and transgender people to fight off the stigma surrounding sexual health and ensure their holistic well-being. Women deserve to be taken care of and respected even for their sexual health choices. Aside from women empowerment, the #BreakFreePH campaign has three more pillars: sexual health, gender-affirming hormone therapy, and women and trans health services under Victoria by LoveYourself community center. HIV advocate Janlee Dungca, Cebuana vlogger Alem Garcia and trans man Nick Escalderon also took part in the campaign in promoting the holistic well-being of trans people, especially for their gender-affirming hormone therapy (GAHT) and health-related issues about transitioning.

While threat of COVID-19 was still looming at the time and were encouraged to stay indoors as much as possible, it doesn’t mean LoveYourself’s commitment to providing private and confidential HIV testing services has to be affected. LoveYourself Community Centers continue to operate amidst the community quarantine restrictions and challenges of the pandemic. But adapting to the situation means providing more innovative options to clients. One of which is SelfCare, officially launched in October 2020 with the support from different partners including SKPA Philippines. It was the first-ever unassisted self-testing service in the country. Initially opened in a limited capacity, SelfCare catered to clients who would like to know their HIV status quickly, safely, and securely in the comfort of their homes. Mainly aimed at addressing clients’ concerns about privacy, convenience, and availability, the timing of SelfCare couldn’t be any more perfect, particularly at a time when pandemic restrictions are in place.

Lastly, as part of its aim to achieve the sustainability of HIV services in the Philippines, SKPA Philippines has supported the conduct of a study that is helping to update the country’s cost information on HIV services to effectively support KP programming, taking into consideration innovations in KP service delivery modalities as well as the adoption of new HIV interventions. With guidance and support from and in close coordination with the Department of Health’s Epidemiology and Disease Prevention and Control Bureaus and UNAIDS Philippines, the HIV costing study supported by SKPA Philippines covers core HIV services covered by both government and CBO health service facilities to gather data on direct and indirect costs utilized for service delivery and operations. Furthermore, results are seen to advise the current SKPA-2’s programming and technical assistance provisions for the Philippines such as the subsequent analysis and modelling of efficient resource allocation for national and local HIV programs.

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