Located in the bustling heart of Iloilo City is the RAJAH Community Centre, a dynamic hub with a meaningful mission. RAJAH stands for "Raising Awareness for Junior Advocates on HIV." Established in 2019 by the Family Planning Organization of the Philippines (FPOP), this centre provides a safe space for HIV testing and support services, free from stigma.
The centre provides counselling and a range of supportive initiatives tailored to its diverse community. What sets this centre apart from other HIV diagnostic and treatment facilities is its unique operational model, primarily driven by volunteers. Many of these volunteers are part of the LGBTIQ+ communities they serve.
Mona Liza S. Diones, the Chapter Program Manager of FPOP Iloilo, noted that a significant number of potential clients still hesitate due to fears associated with visiting a treatment facility. “At RAJAH, we're working to change this perception by providing essential services that promote comfort and eliminate prejudice.”
The centre is a crucial service point that complements existing facilities run by local government units. In partnership with the Department of Health, it provides continuous HIV services, including telemedicine, mobile clinics, and the distribution of essential items such as PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) and condoms. PrEP is an oral pill that reduces the risk of contracting HIV from sex by about 99% when taken correctly. Onsite HIV testing is available for individuals aged 15 and above, following the guidelines of the HIV and AIDS Policy Act in the Philippines, which allows those between 15 to 18 to access testing without parental or guardian consent.
As of January 2023, the Philippines recorded 110,736 cases of HIV. The number of people with HIV is projected to rise by 200%, from 158,400 in 2022 to 364,000 by 2030.