nbhd watch by Victor Platon

Knowing your status need not be a lonely experience

As the Manila Dragons prove, having friends around make a petrifying task bearable

Scary undertakings can become less petrifying when done with friends.  Just take a look at Frodo and Sam embarking on their journey to Mordor, or Dory and Marlin crossing the vast blue ocean to find Nemo. With the Philippines registering the fastest growing rate of new HIV infections in the Asia-Pacific, getting tested to know your HIV status can be a daunting task.  But, as proven by the Manila Dragons dragonboat rowing team, it need not be.

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The team, committed to advocating holistic health and wellness, partnered with local HIV-advocacy group, Love Yourself, to encourage its paddlers to learn more about HIV, and know their status. “Approximately 80 percent of Manila Dragons identify as LGBT, and with this demographic as one of the most vulnerable to HIV, it was natural for us to mobilize our teammates to get the proper information from the right experts,” shares Eric Bane, team captain of the Manila Dragons Men’s Crew.

And learning about HIV—myths about it, how it is transmitted, and how to prevent it—as conducted by Love Yourself volunteer counselors was not only informative, but it turned out to be a lot of fun. Getting your HIV test done with people you are close with, such as your teammates and friends, made for the lighthearted atmosphere. It also strengthened the team’s bond.

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Paul Velasquez, Manila Dragons liaison officer notes, “Knowing your status through rapid HIV screening is a unique way for Manila Dragons to face social issues head on. We are also able to show responsibility as a team, and set an example to others in the community we play in.”

With just a few drops of blood, and a little over fifteen minutes of waiting period, paddlers from the Manila Dragons knew their HIV status. And it’s always comforting to know that you have a teammate and a friend beside you whatever the result may be.

Photographs by Karlin Villasis

ALL PHOTOS WERE TAKEN WITH THE SUBJECTS’ CONSENT. FOR MORE INFORMATION ON HOW YOU OR YOUR FRIENDS CAN KNOW YOUR STATUS FOR FREE, VISIT LOVEYOURSELF.PH OR CALL 0927-892-6611 AND 256-9384. COMPETENT VOLUNTEERS WILL BE THERE TO EDUCATE AND ASSIST YOU IN THEIR UNIQUE AND ENTERTAINING WAY.
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Victor Platon
Victor Platon may wear many hats—he is a development worker, a digital consultant and editor-at-large for an independent gay magazine. But like a true kween, he never takes off his invisible crown. He paddles in the not so dirty waters of Manila Bay four times a week.
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