Monday, August 17, 2015

Dance in Fight Against HIV: DOH Asec Eric Tayag and Bernardo Buddies tandem

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He never lose his charisma, Department of Health (DOH) Assistant Secretary Eric Tayag surprised everyone at an art exhibit last Saturday with a dance performance to support the fight against HIV/AIDS. Joined by Seb Castro of “Bubble Pop” fame and Quezon City’s HIV testing advocates, the Bernardo Buddies, Tayag swayed to Chris Brown’s “Five More Hours.”

The exhibit was the culminating activity of the “You’re Sexy When You Know It” campaign, which was launched on World AIDS Day last year. Jointly organized by the DOH and the Quezon City Government, the campaign makes innovative use of digital tools (social media, blogs, Grindr,Youtube) to encourage males-who-have-sex-with-males MSMs) to sign-up online and set an appointment at Klinika Bernardo, a health facility in Quezon City that provides free HIV counseling,testing, and therapy. 

Disrupting the stigma related to HIV testing, especially among most-at-risk populations, is crucial in the face of the steady increase of HIV incidence in the country. In his opening speech, Tayag talked about the gravity of the current trend, saying: “As of June 2015, there were 772 new HIV Ab sero-positive individuals. This was 56% higher compared to the same period last year. This means that every month we’re getting the highest numbers of reported cases since 1984.” 

Aside from awareness campaigns, the government has also been investing in facilities that would help curb the incidence of HIV in the country. Quezon City Councilor Eufemio C. Lagumbay talked about the importance of innovation and underscored Quezon City’s commitment to addressing HIV/AIDS,proudly announcing that “Quezon City has two more social hygiene clinics, aside from Klinika Bernardo, that will help encourage testing and therapy among our MSMs.” Hosted by TV host and socialite Divine Lee, also known as “Mother Beki,” the exhibit featured works by Niccolo Cosme, Angelo Magno, Jason Moss, and Datu Jainal. Proceeds will be donated to Klinika Bernardo.

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