Pia, Catriona team up to launch HIV awareness campaign

Vince Garcia, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 17 2019 11:28 AM

Pia Wurtzbach helped launch Love Yourself's U=U campaign, which promotes a concept that could possibly stop the spread of HIV. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

If the goal was to turn heads toward a cause, then Love Yourself, a volunteer organization dedicated to raising HIV awareness, definitely made the right decision in picking two women who have no problem in doing just that as their ambassadors. 

The only Pinays to win the Miss Universe pageant in more than four decades, Pia Wurtzbach (who won the title in 2015) and Catriona Gray (currently the titleholder) were revealed last Saturday as the faces of the new Love Yourself campaign called U=U. 

The title is more than just a play on having two Miss Universe winners promote it, but it stands for undetectable=untransmittable. 

It is a concept, based on clinical evidence, that those living with HIV has less of a chance to sexually transmit the disease if they adhere to antiretroviral therapy -- a World Health Organization-recommended method of preventing the spread of the disease. 

Both Wurtzbach and Gray have been championing the importance of raising HIV awareness and the former, speaking with ABS-CBN News' MJ Felipe, said that her support for the cause isn't just for show. "I didn't say it just to win," Wurtzbach said. 

Wurtzbach was one of the main guests of the Love Yourself event, "Love Gala: Courage Amplified," held over the weekend at the ABS-CBN Tent in Vertis North, Quezon City. 

It was an event held to honor the Filipinos and local groups who have made strides in raising HIV awareness at a grassroots level, and served as the official launch of U=U in the country. 

Catriona Gray, in a recorded video, delivers an inspiring message during the Love Gala, where the U=U campaign in the country was officially launched. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

Gray prepared a special message where she described HIV, which has affected millions of lives, "as just an ash of our burning passion that we can dust off as we march toward greatness."

"With love as our universal light, keep passing on the fire to light those torches that are still dim. As love prevails, we will never lose hope," she added. 

According to Love Yourself founder, Ronivin Pagtakhan, there are an estimated 38 new cases daily of HIV in the Philippines. 

"But while the number is growing, we also have a growing number of people who are becoming more aware and better educated about HIV," Pagtakhan said. 

And his volunteer organization aims to recognize those responsible for helping erase the stigma surrounding HIV via the Ripple Awards -- the winners of which were revealed during the Love Gala. 

The winners of The Ripple Awards: (2nd from left) Dr. Regina Berba, (4th from left to right) Gat Joriz Alatiit, Joseph Michael Manlutac, Marc Lester Quintana, and Mikhail Zion Taggueg were recognized during the Love Gala, which honors individuals and organizations that made a mark in HIV/AIDS advocacy, at the ABS-CBN Vertis Tent in Quezon City on Saturday. With the honorees are (far left) UNAIDS Philippines Dr. Louie R. Ocampo, (3rd from left) Fanny Serrano, and (far right) Love Yourself Inc. executive director Ronivin Pagtakhan. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

The winners were as follows: 

People's Choice - Mikhail Zion Taggueg

Most Influential Story - Darwin Tenoria

Project of the Year - CBS (Community Based Screening)

Organization of the Year

- Olympus Society of Davao Inc.

- Family Planning Organization of the Philippines-Iloilo City Chapter

Individuals of the Year

- Mikhail Zion Taggueg

-Marc Lester Quintana

- Gat-Joriz Alatiit

- Regina Berba

- Joseph Michael Manlutac

For more info on the winners, click here.