Rotary Club of Makati West’s HIV caravan benefits over 4,000 students

To help curb the country’s fast rising incidence of Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (HIV-AIDS), where scores of Filipinos, mostly youth, are being diagnosed with the deadly virus daily, the Rotary Club of Makati West (RCMW) visited select college campuses to educate students about HIV and make testing easier for them by bringing it right in their campuses.

With funding support from the Rotary International and the Rotary Club of Singapore West, RCMW launched the #ScrewAIDS campus caravan during World AIDS Day on December 1, 2018 in partnership with The Red Whistle and Love YourSelf and, both are collaborative platforms for people and organizations to come together and show their support to those living with HIV and AIDS.

The caravan’s most recent stop this September 2019 was at PATTS College of Aeronautics in Parañaque City where 1,800 students attended the program, of whom 1,511 students were administered with the Rapid Test for HIV, bringing to over 4,000 the total number of students who benefited from the campaign through educational dialogues, HIV screening (with strictly confidential results), and counseling.

RCMW Past President Dave Caldwell, who is the Rotary’s Co-chair of HIV Prevention Awareness Care and Treatment together with RCMW Director Gerry Laperal, thanked The Red Whistle, all the volunteers, and the students at the campus for attending and fighting to make HIV awareness stronger.

“We thank everyone for a successful HIV education and testing caravan here at PATTS College, where we got more students to know more about HIV and get tested for it. Thanks for being part of our efforts to really do all that we can to screw AIDS,” said Caldwell.

The caravan started going around select public-college campuses early this year with 1,400 students participating in the program with 1,073 students availing of the free HIV testing during its first campus tour in Taguig City University on February 12, 2019. Meanwhile, 1,080 students got tested for HIV at the University of Makati on February 27 and March 20, 2019. The caravan will roll out in more schools this year.

Also a partner of the campaign is integrated marketing communications firm DDB Group Philippines, which, through its corporate social responsibility arm DDB Cares, is helping the campaign gain traction.

“We want to help educate the youth about AIDS, especially that they are beginning their journey of self-discovery. Awareness and education will help keep them safe,” said DDB Group Philippines Chairman & CEO Gil G. Chua.

For his part, RCMW president Eric Tensuan thanked partners and the academe for supporting the campaign that has brought accessible HIV-AIDS education and testing to the youth.

“Together, we hope to improve HIV awareness among the youth and give them better access to HIV prevention, testing, treatment, and support. We stand a better chance to win the battle against HIV-AIDS if we strengthen our unified multi-sector response to fight this epidemic,” Tensuan said.

The Red Whistle Project Manager Benedict Bernabe also expressed his appreciation for the partnership. “By working with the Rotary Club of Makati West, we hope to open more hearts and more doors towards this advocacy. We want to show more people across the country how important HIV-AIDS education and support is,” he said.