Pia Wurtzbach arms youth with vital information on HIV
Since her reign as Miss Universe in 2015, Pia Wurtzbach has been actively involved in humanitarian affairs, speaking out against cyber bullying, standing up for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, and of course, supporting the cause she declared most important to her at the pageant’s question and answer portion—advocating human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) awareness.
A pride of the Philippines, one of the world’s most beautiful women has truly proven how relevant pageant queens can be in today’s society.
Dubbed “Queen Pia” by her admirers, Wurtzbach showed anew on August 9 that despite turning over the Miss Universe crown she is as devoted as ever to her cause for HIV awareness.
Just like she did in 2016 for the cameras in the United States, she got tested for the virus publicly here in the Philippines as a UNAids Goodwill Ambassador for Asia and the Pacific. She was first in line to do so at a mobile clinic run by the community organization LoveYourself in Taguig City.
It will be remembered that Wurtzbach attended the United Nations General Assembly High-Level Meeting on Ending Aids at the UN Headquarters in New York City, USA last year where she promised to see through her advocacy to the best of her capacity.
“I encourage everyone to get tested regularly. Testing is free and you will get the results the same day. It is important to know our HIV status because that’s when you’ll know to get treated if you’re positive. There will be no progress if you don’t start with testing,” Wurtzbach said at the mobile clinic.
That same day she also unveiled her Project Progressive Information Awareness campaign—or the “PIA Project”—which aims to inform young people about HIV and help end the AIDS epidemic, not only in the Philippines, but in the Asia-Pacific region.
Besides spreading information on the virus, the PIA Project will also focus on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression (SOGIE), and promoting self-worth among the youth.
With this endeavor, Wurtzbach hopes to see an increase in HIV awareness, spread love for people living with HIV, and make HIV-testing among Filipinos a regular part of their health and wellness routine.
“To achieve all of this, we will utilize the power of social media for our campaign which we have called #Live2Love. It will give emphasis on the said topics among the key affected populations and the general public. This will include useful videos on Comprehensive HIV and SOGIE 101 to be disseminated to all local government units, senior high schools, colleges, universities and companies.
“Once #Live2Love is rolled out, the PIA Project will focus on facilitating a campaign promoting HIV testing in community centers and social hygiene clinics, and partnering with companies that create an HIV and SOGIE program combined with an aggressive social media campaign and promotion of community-based centers. We hope to increase the rates of regular HIV testing among Filipinos to normalize the procedure as a regular medical examination.”
Moreover, Project PIA is geared towards advocating policy.
“We will also go as far as advocating the passage of an executive order or an amendment to RA 8504, otherwise known as the Philippine Aids Prevention and Control Act of 1988, to lower the age of a HIV testing from 18 years old down to 15 years old. By doing so we will be able to address the growing prevalence of HIV infection among the youth,” Wurtzbach explained.
“Together with UNAids, Taguig City, Love Yourself, and DOH, I believe we can change our greater goals for our community and from here on, further strengthen our bonds in battling HIV Aids,” she enthused.
Wurtzbach further assumed the role of ambassador for the Love Gala, Asia’s Premiere Charity and Awards Gala to be held in Taguig City on December 1 on World Aids Day. The gala will serve as a benefit dinner as the venue of the first-ever Ripple Awards, a multi-sector recognition event for those who have created “ripples of positive change in the community” and to honor champions helping to uplift the lives of people living with HIV.
HIV in PH
Based on data from the country’s Department of Health Epidemiology Bureau, the number of new HIV cases in the Philippines per day has steadily increased from one day in 2007 to 29 per day in 2017. Over the years, the number of new HIV infections has grown among people from key populations, including men who have sex with men and transgender people.
For May 2017 alone, the Philippines reported 1,098 newly diagnosed people living with HIV nationwide. Of these, 325 or roughly 30 percent comprised youths aged 15 to 24, while 554 or more than half were from the 25 to 34 age group.