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HIV GUIDE


loveyourself

LoveYourself is a community of volunteers in the Philippines that offer free HIV counseling, testing, treatment and life-coaching.

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HIV
Testing

Would you like to get tested for HIV? No problem! LoveYourself offers free HIV screening in different locations all over the Philippines.

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Keep Calm & Condom On

Would you like to protect yourself against HIV and other STD’s, put would still like to enjoy your sex life? Then get yourself condoms!

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PrEP

A pill that helps prevent the spread HIV is now available in the Philippines called the Pre-exposure Prophylaxis pill or PrEP.

What is HIV?

Researchers have traced back the origins of HIV back to chimpanzees and the Simian Immunodeficiency Virus (SIV). They found a strain of chimpanzee SIV called SIVcpz, which was almost identical to HIV. The Chimps prey on the other smaller species of monkeys (red-capped mangabeys and greater spot-nosed monkeys) that infect the chimps with the other two strains of SIV. Scientists deduced that the two strains most likely combined to form SIVcpz, which can be spread from chimps to humans.

The virus may have been contracted by humans when hunters ate infected chimps, or the infected blood of the chimps entered the hunters’ open wounds or cuts. Scientists believe that the first-ever transmission of SIV to HIV in humans was in 1920 in Kinshasa, Congo. From there, it may have spread via migrants and sex workers. In 1960’s, it then spread from Africa to Haiti and the Caribbean, then moved to New York and San Francisco later on. The virus has plagued different countries in the world since its first transmission.

The History of HIV

Researchers have traced back the origins of HIV back to chimpanzees and the Simian Immunodeficiency Virus (SIV). They found a strain of chimpanzee SIV called SIVcpz, which was almost identical to HIV. The Chimps prey on the other smaller species of monkeys (red-capped mangabeys and greater spot-nosed monkeys) that infect the chimps with the other two strains of SIV. Scientists deduced that the two strains most likely combined to form SIVcpz, which can be spread from chimps to humans.

The virus may have been contracted by humans when hunters ate infected chimps, or the infected blood of the chimps entered the hunters’ open wounds or cuts. Scientists believe that the first-ever transmission of SIV to HIV in humans was in 1920 in Kinshasa, Congo. From there, it may have spread via migrants and sex workers. In 1960’s, it then spread from Africa to Haiti and the Caribbean, then moved to New York and San Francisco later on. The virus has plagued different countries in the world since its first transmission.

HIV in the 1900’s and 2000’s

Efforts to double HIV awareness doubled during the 1990’s. The Red Ribbon became the international symbol for awareness. Celebrities like Magic Johnson and Freddie Mercury announced to the world that they are HIV-positive, which helped raise more awareness of the disease.

In 1994, the Food and Drug Authority (FDA) approved the first oral HIV test. It was soon followed with an HIV home testing kit and urine test. After the invention and approval of the test kits, a decline in AIDS-related deaths in developed countries was observed. However, in Africa, it was still the fourth most prominent cause of death in 1991.

HIV SYMPTOMS

Women infected with HIV may experience changes in their periods. There may be lighter or heavier bleeding, missed periods, or bad PMS. It may be happening because of the virus’s effects on your immune system, which in turn affects your hormones. They may also feel pain in their lower belly due to infections in the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries, collectively called pelvic inflammatory disease.

HIV Symptoms for Women

1. Fever
2. Unusual Vaginal Discharge
3. Irregular Periods
4. Pain during sex
5. Upper belly pain
6. Recurring Yeast Infection

  • – Thick white vaginal discharge
  • – Burning and soreness in the vagina
  • – Pain during peeing
  • – Pain during sex

Ulcer on the penis is a unique HIV symptom experienced only by men. After being exposed to HIV, sores, or ulcers may develop in different parts of the body. These are often painful and may sometimes appear on a man’s penis, anus, esophagus, and mouth. HIV may also result in hypogonadism, which causes testosterone levels to drop and lead to erectile dysfunction.

HIV Symptoms for Men

1. Body rash
2. Fever
3. Sore throat
4. Severe headaches
5. Joint pain

Stages of Hiv Infection

Stage 1 – Acute HIV Infection

This stage occurs 2 to 4 weeks after infection. The infected person may develop flu-like signs, but this is not always the case. The person usually describes it as “the worst flu ever.” It may include the following symptoms:

  • – Fever
  • – Swollen Giands
  • – Rash
  • – Headache
  • – Sore throat
  • – Muscle pains
  • – Joint aches

These are called Acute Retroviral Syndrome or Primary HIV infection. It’s the body’s response to the HIV infection. Anyone who thinks that they may have been infected is encouraged to seek medical care immediately. If you receive treatment at this early stage, it can have significant benefits on your overall health.

It is during this stage when the virus replicates large amounts of itself in your body. It uses CD4 cells to reproduce copies of itself then destroys them. Eventually, the number of your CD4 cells drop. Your body’s immune system response then is to bring the level of the virus to a viral set point, which is a stabilized level of infection in your body. Your CD4 cells start to increase again but may not be the same as your pre-infection level.

HIV level in your bloodstream is very high during this stage, so it’s also when you are at a very high risk of transmitting the virus via sex or sharing of needles.

Stage 2 – Clinical Latency Stage

The Clinical Latency Stage is a period wherein the virus is in the person’s body but doesn’t produce symptoms, or if there are, it’s only mild ones. The virus still reproduces but does so at very low levels. People in this stage are still able to transmit the virus to others. For infected people who are not taking treatment, the latency stage may last an average of 10 years, but for some, the infection may progress faster.

Stage 3 – AIDS

It is the last stage and occurs when your immune system is already severely damaged. You’re more prone to opportunistic infections during this stage, and the level of your CD4 cells have already dropped below 200 cells per cubic millimeter of blood.

Opportunistic infections are infections that used to cause only minimal or almost no problems at all before the development of AIDS but become serious health risks to a person who has weakened immune system.

For people who aren’t getting treatment, they can survive up to 3 years. According to Medical News Today, symptoms during this stage may include the following:

  • – blurry vision
  • – persistent or chronic diarrhea
  • – dry cough
  • – a fever of over 100 °F (37 °C) lasting for weeks
  • – night sweats
  • – permanent fatigue
  • – shortness of breath
  • – swollen glands lasting for weeks
  • – unintentional weight loss
  • – white spots on the tongue or mouth

How is HIV Transmitted

The spread of the virus from mother to child during pregnancy, childbirth, or breastfeeding is called mother-to-child transmission of HIV, while the spread of the virus from one person to another is called HIV transmission. Contact with certain body fluids from an HIV infected person spreads the virus. HIV transmission only occurs when these body fluids are in contact with a mucous membrane or a tissue that’s damaged or if injected directly into the bloodstream by a needle or syringe. These body fluids include:
Blood
Breast Milk
Anal Fluids
Vaginal Fluids
Semen
Pre-Semen Fluids

LIST OF OPPORTUNISTIC INFECTIONS

1. Candidiasis of the esophagus, lungs, bronchi, and trachea is a fungal infection that usually occurs in the nails and skin. For people with AIDS, it may cause severe problems in the esophagus and also in the lower respiratory tract.

2. Invasive cervical cancer is a type of cancer that starts from the cervix and then spreads to other regions of the body. Having a regular check-up with a cancer care team can help avoid it or limit the spread.

3. Coccidioidomycosis is commonly known to as valley fever. It is caused by inhaling the fungus Coccidioides immitis.

4. Cryptococcosis is caused by a fungus called Cryptococcus neoformans that infects any part of the body. It often enters the lungs and causes pneumonia or swelling of the brain.

5. he protozoan parasite Cryptosporidium causes cryptosporidiosis. It can lead to severe abdominal cramps and watery diarrhea.

6. Cytomegalovirus disease (CMV) can cause a wide range of diseases in the body. This includes gastroenteritis, pneumonia, a brain infection, and encephalitis. People with AIDS have concerns about CMV retinitis. It infects the retina at the back of the eye, causing permanent blindness. CMV retinitis is considered to be a medical emergency.

7. HIV-related encephalopathy is an acute or chronic HIV infection. It can trigger a brain disorder. It is considered to be linked to post-infection inflammation in the brain. The exact cause of it is still unknown to medical experts.

8. Herpes simplex (HSV) can infect the lungs or esophagus of people with late-stage HIV. The virus which causes this disease is usually sexually transmitted or passed on in childbirth. It is extremely common and rarely causes health problems in people with healthy immune systems. It may reactivate in people with HIV. It causes ulcers on the genitals and anus and cold sores around the mouth, and that do not go away. The sores are an indicator of AIDS.

9. The fungus Histoplasma capsulatum causes Histoplasmosis in people with advanced HIV, it causes extremely severe, pneumonia-like symptoms. It can progress into disseminated histoplasmosis and can have effects on organs found outside of the respiratory system.

10. The parasite Isospora belli causes chronic intestinal isosporiasis. It can infect the body through consuming contaminated food and water. Through this contamination, it causes diarrhea, abdominal pain, weight loss, fever, vomiting, headaches.

11. Kaposi’s sarcoma (KS) is caused by the Kaposi’s sarcoma herpesvirus (KSHV), also known as human herpesvirus 8(HHV-8). It causes a kind of cancer that leads to the growth of abnormal blood vessels in the body. When KS reaches organs, the intestines, or lymph nodes, for example, it becomes very dangerous. It usually appears as solid purple or pink spots on the skin. They are either flat or raised.

12. Lymphoma is what people refer to as the cancer of the lymph nodes and lymphoid tissues. It has many different types. Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphoma have a strong association with HIV infection.

13. The bacteria Mycobacterium tuberculosis causes tuberculosis (TB). It’s a disease that can transfer if a person with an active form of the bacteria coughs, speaks or sneezes. It causes a severe lung infection, accompanied by fever, weight loss, and tiredness. It may also infect the lymph nodes, brain, bones, or kidneys.

14. Mycobacteria, including Mycobacterium avium and Mycobacterium kansasii, are bacteria that occur in the environment naturally. They only pose a few problems for people with robust immune systems. They may spread in different regions of the body and cause severe health issues for people with HIV and AIDS.

15. Pneumocystis jirovecii pneumonia (PJP) is caused by a fungus called Pneumocystis jirovecii. It may lead to dry cough, high fever, and breathlessness in people with severely weakened immune systems, including those with HIV.

16. Recurrent pneumonia caused by a bacteria called Streptococcus pneumoniae is one of its most dangerous causes in people with a compromised immune system. Vaccines are already available for this type of bacteria. Every person who has HIV has to be vaccinated for Streptococcus pneumoniae.

17. Progressive multifocal encephalopathy (PML) is caused by the John Cunningham (JC) virus. It occurs in a lot of people but is usually dormant in the kidneys. The virus attacks the brain, causing a dangerous condition called progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML) in people with weakened immune systems, possibly because of HIV or medications, such as those for multiple sclerosis (MS). PML may cause paralysis and cognitive difficulties. It can be life-threatening.

18. Recurrent Salmonella septicemia is a kind of bacteria that enters the body by consuming contaminated food and water. It circulates the entire body, and attacks the immune system, leading to diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting.

19. A parasite called Toxoplasma gondii causes toxoplasmosis (toxo). It lives inside warm-blooded animals, cats, and rodents, for example, and exits their body in their feces. By breathing in contaminated dust or consuming contaminated food, humans can get the disease. It is also possible to contract the disease by commercial meats. The parasite causes severe infection in different areas of the body, such as the liver, brain, lungs, retina, heart, pancreas, testes, and colon. Always remember to wear protective gloves when changing cat litter. Don’t forget to properly wash your hands after cleaning the litter box.

20. “Wasting syndrome” happens when a person loses 10% of their muscle mass and fats through weakness, diarrhea, or fever.

Where can I get tested?

In the Philippines, several healthcare facilities offer HIV screening tests. Here is a list of some of the testing centers found in different areas of the country, accompanied by their contact number, operating days, address, fees, and results.

Caloocan City Social Hygiene Clinic, 288-8811, open Monday to Friday, A. Mabini St., Caloocan City Hall, Free of charge, Test results released in 15-20 minutes
Pasig City Health Development, 640-0111, Monday to Friday, A. Mabini St., Caloocan City Hall, Free of charge, Within an hour
Saint Camillus Medical Center, 645 3741, Monday to Saturday, 116 Amang Rodriguez Ave., Santolan, P600, 15-20 minutes
Quezon City Health Department, 929-8902, Monday to Friday, Manuel L, Corner Kalayaan Avenue, Barangay Central, Free, Rapid: 1 day Confirmatory: 3 weeks
Quezon City, Klinika Bernardo, Monday to Friday, Ermin Garcia Street, Edsa Cubao, Quezon City, Free, Rapid: 1 hour Confirmatory: 2-3 weeks
Makati Social Hygiene Clinic, 899-8927, Monday to Friday, Edsa Cubao, Across Nepa Q-mart, besides Ramon Magsaysay High School, Ermin Garcia Street
Barangay Pinagkaisahan, Free, Rapid: 20 minutes Confirmatory: 2 weeks
Pedro Cruz Health Center, 799-5069, Monday to Friday, F. Sevilla Street, Barangay Pedro Cruz, Free, Rapid: 30 days Confirmatory Test Result: 10 days
Manila Social Hygiene Clinic, 711-6942, Monday to Friday, Quiricada Street, Sta. Cruz, Free, 10-15 minutes
Las Piñas (Daniel Fajardo) Social Hygiene Clinic, 800-6406, Monday to Friday, Barrio Hall, Alabang Zapote Road, Almansa, 3 hours
Navotas City Health Office, 281-8728, Monday to Friday, Los Martires Street. Bagong Lipunan Health Center, San Jose, Free, 10-20 minutes Confirmatory: 1 month
Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center, 442-4216, Monday to Friday, Governor Pack Road, Baguio, P300, Rapid: 30 minutes
Baguio City Social Hygiene Clinic, 442-9800, Monday to Friday, Baguio Health Service Offices T. Alonzo Street, Baguio City, Free (For employment fee: P225.00)
Tabuk III Rural Health Unit, Bulanao, Tabuk City, Kalinga
Ilocos Training and Regional Medical Center, 607-6413, Monday to Friday, Barangay Parian, San Fernando, La Union, Free, Rapid: 1 hour
La Union Medical Center, 607-6418, Monday to Friday
San Fernando City Social Hygiene Clinic, 888-6916, Monday to Friday, 2nd floor, Marcos Building, Lucero Street, Barangy 1, San Fernando City, La Union, Free, Rapid: 1 hour Confirmatory: 3 weeks
Dagupan City Social Hygiene Clinic, Dagupan City, Pangasinan
Pangasinan Provincial Hospital, 532-2603, Bolingit, San Carlos City, Pangasinan
RI Medical Center, 532-2603, Arellano St., Dagupan City, Pangasinan
Mariano Marcos Memorial Hospital, Batac, Ilocos Norte
Candon Social Hygiene Clinic, Candon City, Ilocos
Santiago Social Hygiene Clinic, 305-2775, Monday to Friday, 1st floor, City Hall, San Andres, Free, 1 hour
Ilgan City Health Office, Monday to Friday, Brgy. Magsaysay, Alicia, Isabela
Solano Social Hygiene Clinic, Monday to Friday,
Bayombong Provincial Health Office, Monday to Friday, Capitol Compound, Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya
Bambang Social Hygiene Clinic, Monday to Friday
Cabangan Social Hygiene Clinic, Poblacion Cabangan, Zambales
Narra Social Hygiene Clinic, Monday to Friday, Magsaysay Street, Poblacion, Narra, Palawan, Free, Rapid: 1 day
Caloocan City Social Hygiene Clinic, 288-8811, open Monday to Friday, A. Mabini St., Caloocan City Hall, Free of charge, Test results released in 15-20 minutes
Puerto Princesa Social Hygiene Clinic, 434-6581, Monday to Friday, Valencia Street, Barangay Model, Free, Rapid: 20 minutes Confirmatory: 2-3 weeks

loveyourself

There are also institutions such as LoveYourself that exist primarily to guide you and prepare you with your HIV screening tests. They also provide counseling and HIV/AIDS education to spread awareness and stop the occurrence of an epidemic among youth and the affected part of the population.

They are open from Mondays to Sundays. They offer free-of-charge and confidential HIV tests in all of their testing locations. Here’s a list of LoveYourself HIV testing centers taken from their website.

Love yourself testing centers

LoveYourself Welcome (Espana / Blumentritt St., Manila, near Welcome Rotonda)

Their office is open every day except Sundays and Mondays. They offer HIV tests free-of-charge. They have a friendly, warm, and non-discriminatory staff. They’re located at 858 Blumentritt Road corner Remedios Street, Sampaloc, Manila, near the intersection of Espana and Blumentritt, near Welcome Rotonda.

Phone: 0967 207 1976
Operating hours: Tuesdays to Saturdays
2 PM TO 11 PM (Cut-off* time: 10PM)

LoveYourself Anglo (Shaw Blvd., Mandaluyong City)

Their office is open every day except Mondays and Tuesdays. HIV test is free-of-charge. Friendly, warm, and non-discriminatory staff. They’re located at Unit 5, 3/F, Anglo Building, #715-A Shaw Boulevard, Mandaluyong City. (3-minute walk from Shaw MRT Station, just behind Star Mall EDSA). You can find them on the 3rd floor of a yellow building with Anglo Hardware on the ground floor.

Phone: 0915 172 3707 (they do not respond to texts, only calls)
Operating hours: Wednesdays to Saturdays 12 NN TO 7 PM
Sundays 9 AM TO 2 PM
Monday and Tuesday CLOSED

LoveYourself Uni (Taft Ave., Pasay City)

Their office is open every day except Mondays and Tuesdays. Friendly, warm, and non-discriminatory staff. They offer HIV test for free. You can find their office at 2028 Taft Avenue Extension, Pasay City. The center is conveniently situated close to LRT-1 Gil Puyat or Buendia station on the northbound lane of Taft Avenue. On the ground floor of the building is a building.

Phone: (02) 256-9384
Operating Hours: Wednesdays to Saturdays 12 NN TO 7 PM
Sundays 9 AM TO 2 PM
Monday and Tuesday CLOSED

Victoria by LoveYourself (Park Avenue, Manila)

Formerly known as the Victoria Health and Wellness Center, Victoria by LoveYourself (VLY), is the first community center that offers services specializing in the needs of transgender (TG) persons. Other than the usual HIV screening and counseling services, the community center also offers hormone management, and pre-GAS (gender-affirming surgery) assessment and counseling. If you’re interested, you can go and inquire more about these services by going through the contact details below.

When LoveYourself Uni and LoveYourself Anglo are closed, you can go to the community center. They provide HIV screening and counseling services to everyone from Saturdays to Wednesdays (12nn to 7 PM).

They’re open five days a week for hormone replacement therapy consultations. Please take note that they are per appointment only from Saturday to Wednesday. You can find VLY at 2/F Torres Bldg., 2442 Park Avenue, Pasay City, Metro Manila, Philippines 1302. The center is along Libertad, Pasay.

Phone: +639158318715
Free Doctor’s Consultation* for Hormone
Replacement Therapy (HRT) for TGs
Saturday to Wednesday

BY APPOINTMENT ONLY (5–7 PM time slots)
*To schedule your free HRT consult, you are
required to fill out a Client Signup Form

HIV Screening and Counselling Services for all
Saturday to Wednesday
12 NN TO 7 PM

Thursday and Friday
CLOSED

Lily by LoveYourself (San Martin de Porres, Paranaque)

Lily is a joint effort by LoveYourself and another Community-based organization, DIOSSA. The center offers their HIV tests free-of-charge. More than this, they pride themselves on having a friendly, warm, and non-discriminatory staff. They also provide HIV screening and counseling services to everyone six days a week from Tuesday to Sunday (12nn to 9 pm). You can access Lily by LoveYourself x DIOSSA at 5th Floor, Pineda Building, #98 Manalac Ave., Sitio De Asis, San Martin de Porres, Paranaque City.

Phone: 0977-7969227 0928-6896422
Tuesday to Sunday 12 NN TO 9 pm
Monday CLOSED

HOW TO PREVENT CONTRACTING HIV

PrEP or pre-exposure prophylaxis is a pill you take on a daily basis to help you prevent contracting HIV. This is for anyone who doesn’t have HIV but want to secure their protection. The risks of contracting HIV drop to 90% when you take this drug consistently. It’s not for everyone, but people who are at higher risk of getting HIV will benefit most from it. This includes people such as those who don’t regularly use condoms, sex workers, and people who have multiple partners.

During Sex

Practice safe sex by wearing a condom when having sexual relations with someone you’re not in a trusted relationship with or take PrEP pills.

Sharing of Needles & Drug Injection

People who need injectable medications have to use their personal and hygienic needles.

Exposure to Body Fluids

Healthcare workers, are expected to wear gloves, masks and other protective tools to reduce the risk of exposure to contaminated body fluids, washing of skin after contact with body fluids is also recommended.

Pregnancy

HIV infected women who are pregnant have to regularly follow their medication to reduce transmission of the virus to her child.

IS THERE A CURE
FOR HIV?

There is no cure available for HIV/AIDS yet. There are, however, treatments that you can take to hinder the progression of the virus and enable people infected with the virus to live a relatively long and healthy life.

Taking antiretroviral treatment early on significantly reduces HIV in the body to an undetectable viral load, which in turn helps improve the HIV infected person’s life, reduce transmission risk, and increase life expectancy.Antiretroviral drugs have a number of subgroups, such as:

Protease Inhibitors — these medications bind to protease enzymes, which are enzymes needed by HIV to replicate, and prevents the virus from creating copies of itself

Integrase Inhibitors — these types of drugs block the integrase enzyme, which HIV needs to infect cells. Usually the initial line of treatment because of its effectiveness and slim side effects for a lot of people

Nucleoside/nucleotide reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs) — interferes with HIV whenever the virus tries to replicate

Non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs) — has the same effects as NRTIs

Entry inhibitors — these drugs stop HIV from entering the T-cells

You need a combined intake of these drugs to suppress HIV. Medical experts mix the right match of drugs per individual.

There’s also a drug that a person can take if he thinks he has been exposed to HIV within the past three days. Post-exposure prophylaxis, which is an anti-HIV medication, may help stop the infection. The treatment lasts a total of 28 days. The patient has to be monitored for HIV even after the end of the procedure.

What to do when you tested positive

There are lifestyle changes you have to adhere to because of the increase in risks of infections and diseases.

Taking your HIV medication is a must. Organize your lifestyle in a way that adheres to your treatment. If side effects are becoming too severe, talk to your healthcare provider. Regularly check up with your healthcare provider to ensure that the treatment is working fine. They can change the combination of your drugs to something you are more comfortable with.

HIV medication can be expensive. But in the Philippines, the Department of Health offers free HIV treatment. They encourage the HIV infected population to “access and take advantage of this life-saving antiretroviral drugs in all of the DOH-designated HIV treatment facilities.”

Take the initiative in maintaining good health by exercising, eating a balanced diet, and avoiding harmful drugs and smoking. The stigma around HIV is still present, though not as severe as before thanks to the continuous awareness efforts by different organizations. You may feel excluded and persecuted. You must have a strong support system you can rely on.

Organizations such as LoveYourself created HIV care and support groups that are committed to helping you by sharing advice, friendship, and guidance. Joining these groups is vital to maintaining your mental health.

Help Spread hiv awareness

Be part of something meaningful by joining LoveYourself in their mission to spread HIV awareness.

Although most of their activities are in Manila, LoveYourself accepts volunteers from all over the country. Anyone of legal age, whatever gender, sexuality, race, creed, education, or work background you have, you’re welcome to join. You can undergo training and orientation to be a better member of the LoveYourself community and to serve the HIV advocacy better. Simply visit this site to find out how you can join. You’ll be required to fill up a sign up form and will be contacted soon.

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Lauvette is dedicated to educating the country about the practice of safe sex. We are in partnership with LoveYourself in spreading HIV awareness and helping the affected population. For every purchase you make in our online store, we donate a percentage of it to LoveYourself organization.

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