HIV Guide

HIV Guide

HIV TestingHIV Testing

LoveYourself is a community of volunteers in the Philippines that offer free HIV counseling, testing, treatment, and life-coaching.

Get Tested

Love YourselfLoveyourself

Would you like to get tested for HIV? No problem! LoveYourself offers free HIV screening in different locations all over the Philippines.

Learn more

CondomKeep Calm &
Condom On

Have a satisfying sexual life while protecting yourself from sexually transmitted infections such as HIV. Get yourself some condoms here.

Shop Now

What is HIV?


HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. This sexually-transmitted infection damages your immune system, particularly the CD4 cells that are meant to ward off the infections on your body. As the virus kills these helpful cells, you’ll be prone to serious infections and diseases.

It’s transmitted through bodily fluids such as blood, semen, vaginal fluids, rectal fluids, and breast milk. You can get it through vaginal or anal sex, sharing needles with an HIV-Positive individual, and sharing tattoo equipment with an infected person. Infants from HIV-Positive mothers also have a higher risk of getting infected.

According to a UNAIDS (Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS) report regarding the Global HIV epidemic, the Philippines has become the country with the fastest-growing HIV epidemic in Asia and the Pacific.

It has been reported that the number of new infections in the country has doubled in the past six (6) years– from an estimated 4,300 in 2010 to an estimated 10,500 in 2016.

As of 2019, the estimated number of cases is now 16,000. Published data from UNAIDS also show that there are an estimated 97,000 adults and children that are living with HIV in the same year.

This is why spreading the word about HIV is highly essential. As more people become aware of this sexually transmitted infection, more individuals will be engaging in safe sex practices– ending the rising trend of HIV infections in the country.

hiv symptoms

HIV Symptoms for Men

Ulcer on the penis is a unique HIV symptom experienced only by men. After being exposed to HIV, sores, or ulcers may develop in different parts of the body. These are often painful and may sometimes appear on a man’s penis, anus, esophagus, and mouth. HIV may also result in hypogonadism, which causes testosterone levels to drop and lead to erectile dysfunction.

Symptoms for Men
– Body rash
– Fever
– Sore throat
– Severe headaches
– Joint pain

HIV Symptoms for Women

Women infected with HIV may experience changes in their periods. There may be lighter or heavier bleeding, missed periods, or bad PMS. It may be happening because of the virus’s effects on your immune system, which in turn affects your hormones. They may also feel pain in their lower belly due to infections in the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries, collectively called pelvic inflammatory disease.

Symptoms for Women
– Fever
– Unusual vaginal discharge
– Irregular periods
– Pain during sex
– Upper belly pain
– Recurring yeast infection

Stages of HIV Infection

Stages of hiv infection

Stage 1

acute hiv infection

This stage occurs 2 to 4 weeks after infection. The infected person may develop flu-like signs, but this is not always the case. The person usually describes it as “the worst flu ever.” It may include the following symptoms:

Fever, Swollen Glands, Rash, Headache, Sore throat, Muscle pains, Joint aches

These are called Acute Retroviral Syndrome or Primary HIV infection. It’s the body’s response to the HIV infection. Anyone who thinks that they may have been infected is encouraged to seek medical care immediately. If you receive treatment at this early stage, it can have significant benefits on your overall health.

It is during this stage when the virus replicates large amounts of itself in your body. It uses CD4 cells to reproduce copies of itself then destroys them. Eventually, the number of your CD4 cells drop. Your body’s immune system response then is to bring the level of the virus to a viral set point, which is a stabilized level of infection in your body. Your CD4 cells start to increase again but may not be the same as your pre-infection level.

HIV levels in your bloodstream are very high during this stage, so it’s also when you are at a very high risk of transmitting the virus via sex or sharing of needles.

Stage 2

clinical latency stage

The Clinical Latency Stage is a period wherein the virus is in the person’s body but doesn’t produce symptoms, or if there are, it’s only mild ones. The virus still reproduces but does so at very low levels. People in this stage are still able to transmit the virus to others. For infected people who are not taking treatment, the latency stage may last an average of 10 years, but for some, the infection may progress faster.

Stage 3


It is the last stage and occurs when your immune system is already severely damaged. You’re more prone to opportunistic infections during this stage, and the level of your CD4 cells have already dropped below 200 cells per cubic millimeter of blood.

Opportunistic infections are infections that used to cause only minimal or almost no problems at all before the development of AIDS but become serious health risks to a person who has a weakened immune system.

For people who aren’t getting treatment, they can survive up to 3 years. According to Medical News Today, symptoms during this stage may include the following:

– Blurry vision
– Persistent or chronic diarrhea
– Dry cough
– Fever of over 37 °C lasting for weeks
– Night sweats
– Permanent fatigue
– Shortness of breath
– Swollen glands lasting for weeks
– Unintentional weight loss
– White spots on the tongue or mout



A pill that helps prevent the spread HIV is now available in the Philippines called the Pre-exposure Prophylaxis pill or PrEP

How is HIV Transmitted

The spread of the virus from mother to child during pregnancy, childbirth, or breastfeeding is called mother-to-child transmission of HIV, while the spread of the virus from one person to another is called HIV transmission. Contact with certain body fluids from an HIV infected person spreads the virus. HIV transmission only occurs when these body fluids are in contact with a mucous membrane or a tissue that’s damaged or if injected directly into the bloodstream by a needle or syringe. These body fluids include:

Breast MilkBreast Milk
Anal FluidsAnal Fluids
Vaginal FluidsVaginal Fluids
Pre-Semen FluidsPre-Semen Fluids

How to prevent contracting hiv

During SexDuring Sex

If you’re having casual sexual relationships, practice safe sex by using dental dams, wearing condoms, and taking PrEP pills.
Sharing NeedlesSharing Needles &
Drug Injection

People who need injectable medications have to use their personal and hygienic needles.
Exposure to
Body FluidsExposure to
Body Fluids

Healthcare workers are expected to wear gloves, masks, and other protective tools to reduce the risk of exposure to contaminated body fluids, washing of skin after contact with body fluids is also recommended.


HIV-positive pregnant women have to regularly follow their medication to reduce the transmission of the virus to their child.

Taking PrEPTaking PrEP

PrEP or pre-exposure prophylaxis is a pill you take daily to help you prevent contracting HIV. The risks of contracting HIV drop to 90% when you take this drug consistently. It’s not for everyone, but people who are at higher risk of getting HIV will benefit most from it.

This is why spreading the word about HIV is highly essential. As more people become aware of this sexually transmitted infection, more individuals will be engaging in safe sex practices– ending the rising trend of HIV infections in the country.

Living with HIV

Receiving an HIV-Positive Diagnosis

Receiving an HIV-positive diagnosis can be overwhelming. It’s normal to feel angry, sad, stressed, and helpless during this period. Some people will also feel a sense of denial about the diagnosis.
Now, they have the right to feel whatever they are feeling when receiving the diagnosis. What we can suggest during this crucial time to take care of their emotional needs by doing the following:
TalkingTalking about their feelings with a trusted family member, friend, or medical professional.
ActivitiesPutting their focus on activities that reduce their stress.
SleepingGetting enough sleep each night.
MeditationLearning relaxation methods such as yoga, meditation, and breathing techniques.
AlcoholAvoiding unhealthy coping mechanisms such as excessive drinking, smoking, or drug use.
Support GroupJoining a support group.
It’s also important to keep in mind that HIV is not a death sentence. There are treatments that you can take to hinder the progression of the virus and enable people infected with the virus to live a relatively long and healthy life.

HIV Treatment

Taking antiretroviral treatment early on significantly reduces HIV in the body to an undetectable viral load, which in turn helps improve the HIV infected person’s life, reduce transmission risk, and increase life expectancy. Antiretroviral drugs have several subgroups, such as:

Protease Inhibitors

these medications bind to protease enzymes, which are enzymes needed by HIV to replicate, and prevents the virus from creating copies of itself

Integrase Inhibitors

these types of drugs block the integrase enzyme, which HIV needs to infect cells. Usually the initial line of treatment because of its effectiveness and slim side effects for a lot of people

Nucleoside Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors (NRTIs)

interferes with HIV whenever the virus tries to replicate

Non-nucleoside Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors (NNRTIs)

has the same effects as NRTIs

Entry inhibitors

these drugs stop HIV from entering the T-cells
There’s also a drug that a person can take if he thinks he has been exposed to HIV within the past three days. Post-exposure prophylaxis, which is an anti-HIV medication, may help stop the infection. The treatment lasts a total of 28 days. The patient has to be monitored for HIV even after the end of the procedure.

Long-Term Complications

HIV-positive people need to take their prescribed medications. If treatments are dismissed, your body will eventually go through the final stage (AIDS). Your immune system is severely weakened, increasing your risk of contracting opportunistic infections, such as the following:

– Candidiasis of the esophagus, lungs, bronchi, and trachea is a fungal infection that usually occurs in the nails and skin. For people with AIDS, it may cause severe problems in the esophagus and also in the lower respiratory tract.

– Invasive cervical cancer is a type of cancer that starts from the cervix and then spreads to other regions of the body.

– Coccidioidomycosis is commonly known as valley fever. It is caused by inhaling the fungus Coccidioides immitis.

– Cryptococcosis is caused by a fungus called Cryptococcus neoformans that infects any part of the body. It often enters the lungs and causes pneumonia or swelling of the brain.

– Cryptosporidiosis leading to severe abdominal cramps and watery diarrhea.

– Cytomegalovirus disease (CMV) can cause a wide range of diseases in the body. This includes gastroenteritis, pneumonia, a brain infection, and encephalitis.

– People with AIDS have concerns about CMV retinitis. It infects the retina at the back of the eye, causing permanent blindness. CMV retinitis is considered to be a medical emergency.

– HIV-related encephalopathy is an acute or chronic HIV infection. It can trigger a brain disorder. It is considered to be linked to post-infection inflammation in the brain. The exact cause of it is still unknown to medical experts.

– Herpes simplex (HSV) can infect the lungs or esophagus of people with late-stage HIV. It causes ulcers on the genitals and anus and cold sores around the mouth, and that does not go away. The sores are an indicator of AIDS.

– The fungus Histoplasma capsulatum causes Histoplasmosis in people with advanced HIV, it causes extremely severe, pneumonia-like symptoms. It can progress into disseminated histoplasmosis and can have effects on organs found outside of the respiratory system.

– The parasite Isospora Belli causes chronic intestinal isosporiasis. It can infect the body through consuming contaminated food and water. Through this contamination, it causes diarrhea, abdominal pain, weight loss, fever, vomiting, headaches.

– Kaposi’s sarcoma (KS) is caused by Kaposi’s sarcoma herpesvirus (KSHV), also known as human herpesvirus 8(HHV-8). It causes a kind of cancer that leads to the growth of abnormal blood vessels in the body.

– Lymphoma is what people refer to as the cancer of the lymph nodes and lymphoid tissues. It has many different types. Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphoma have a strong association with HIV infection.

– The bacteria Mycobacterium tuberculosis causes tuberculosis (TB). It’s a disease that can transfer if a person with an active form of the bacteria coughs, speaks, or sneezes. It causes a severe lung infection, accompanied by fever, weight loss, and tiredness. It may also infect the lymph nodes, brain, bones, or kidneys.

– Pneumocystis jirovecii pneumonia (PJP) is caused by a fungus called Pneumocystis jirovecii. It may lead to dry cough, high fever, and breathlessness in people with severely weakened immune systems, including those with HIV.

– Recurrent pneumonia caused by a bacteria called Streptococcus pneumoniae is one of its most dangerous causes in people with a compromised immune system. Vaccines are already available for this type of bacteria. Every person who has HIV has to be vaccinated for Streptococcus pneumoniae.

– Progressive multifocal encephalopathy (PML) is caused by the John Cunningham (JC) virus. The virus attacks the brain, causing a dangerous condition called progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML) in people with weakened immune systems, possibly because of HIV or medications, such as those for multiple sclerosis (MS). PML may cause paralysis and cognitive difficulties. It can be life-threatening.

– Recurrent Salmonella septicemia is a kind of bacteria that enters the body by consuming contaminated food and water. It circulates the entire body, and attacks the immune system, leading to diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting.

– “Wasting syndrome” happens when a person loses 10% of their muscle mass and fats through weakness, diarrhea, or fever.

Maintaining a Helathy Lifestyle

There are lifestyle changes you have to adhere to because of the increase in risks of long-term complications.

Taking your HIV medication is a must. Organize your lifestyle in a way that adheres to your treatment. If side effects are becoming too severe, talk to your healthcare provider. Regularly check-up with your healthcare provider to ensure that the treatment is working fine. They can change the combination of your drugs to something you are more comfortable with.

HIV medication can be expensive. But in the Philippines, the Department of Health offers free HIV treatment. They encourage the HIV infected population to “access and take advantage of these life-saving antiretroviral drugs in all of the DOH-designated HIV treatment facilities.”

Take the initiative in maintaining good health by exercising, eating a balanced diet, and avoiding harmful drugs and smoking. The stigma around HIV is still present, though not as severe as before thanks to the continuous awareness efforts by different organizations. You may feel excluded and persecuted. You must have a strong support system you can rely on.

Organizations such as LoveYourself created HIV care and support groups that are committed to helping you by sharing advice, friendship, and guidance. Joining these groups is vital to maintaining your mental health.

Frequenly Asked Questions

As you’ve reached the end of this guide, you’re probably still having questions lingering in your mind regarding HIV. With that, we’ve answered some of the frequently asked questions regarding this infection.

Can I get HIV from oral sex?

There is little to no risk of transmitting HIV from oral sex. Though it’s possible to get it from oral sex, in case the HIV-positive man ejaculates on their partner’s mouth, this case is still rare as compared to anal or vaginal sex.

Can two HIV-positive parents have an HIV-negative child?

Yes, it’s possible, as long as the mother takes the prescribed medical treatment properly. That’s why pregnant women need to take HIV or STD screenings early on.

Are HIV and AIDS the same thing?

These two terms are connected, but they’re not the same thing. HIV is a sexually transmitted infection, while AIDS is the late stage of HIV infection.

How often should a person be tested?

It’s suggested to take one (1) HIV testing per year. However, for sexually active people, it’s best to take HIV screening every three (3) to six (6) months.

Can HIV be transferred through kissing?

Nope. There is no research backing up this claim. You can only get it through unprotected vaginal or anal sex, being exposed to infected needles, and sharing tattoo equipment with an infected person.

My partner and I have HIV. Do we still need to practice safe sex?

Yes, it’s still important to use condoms and dental dams even if you’re both HIV-positive. If you and your partner have two different strains of HIV, you may transmit these strains to each other. Now, it can lead to reinfection and complicate your treatment.

Now, if both of your medications can reduce the levels of the virus to the point that it’s untransmittable, then using condoms and dental may be necessary. Make sure to consult your healthcare provider regarding this.

Do Mosquitos spread HIV?

Nope. Several studies show that this is impossible. Aside from the fact that bugs don’t inject the blood of the person they bit before you, HIV also only lives for a short time in their bodies.

Can I still spread HIV despite being under treatment?

Even if you have an undetectable viral load due to HIV medications, this doesn’t mean zero viral load. With that being said, you can still spread the virus to someone. That’s why practicing safe sex– using condoms and dental dams– is a must should you have sex. It’s also important to let the other person know that you’re HIV-positive so you could both get prepared together and ensure that the virus wouldn’t be transmitted.

Get Yourself Tested!

Where can I Get Tested?

Caloocan City Social Hygiene Clinic, 288-8811, open Monday to Friday, A. Mabini St., Caloocan City Hall, Free of charge, Test results released in 15-20 minutes
Pasig City Health Development, 640-0111, Monday to Friday, A. Mabini St., Caloocan City Hall, Free of charge, Within an hour
Saint Camillus Medical Center, 645 3741, Monday to Saturday, 116 Amang Rodriguez Ave., Santolan, P600, 15-20 minutes
Quezon City Health Department, 929-8902, Monday to Friday, Manuel L, Corner Kalayaan Avenue, Barangay Central, Free, Rapid: 1 day Confirmatory: 3 weeks
Quezon City, Klinika Bernardo, Monday to Friday, Ermin Garcia Street, Edsa Cubao, Quezon City, Free, Rapid: 1 hour Confirmatory: 2-3 weeks
Makati Social Hygiene Clinic, 899-8927, Monday to Friday, Edsa Cubao, Across Nepa Q-mart, besides Ramon Magsaysay High School, Ermin Garcia Street Barangay Pinagkaisahan, Free, Rapid: 20 minutes Confirmatory: 2 weeks
Pedro Cruz Health Center, 799-5069, Monday to Friday, F. Sevilla Street, Barangay Pedro Cruz, Free, Rapid: 30 days Confirmatory Test Result: 10 days
Manila Social Hygiene Clinic, 711-6942, Monday to Friday, Quiricada Street, Sta. Cruz, Free, 10-15 minutes
Las Piñas (Daniel Fajardo) Social Hygiene Clinic, 800-6406, Monday to Friday, Barrio Hall, Alabang Zapote Road, Almansa, 3 hours
Navotas City Health Office, 281-8728, Monday to Friday, Los Martires Street. Bagong Lipunan Health Center, San Jose, Free, 10-20 minutes Confirmatory: 1 month
Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center, 442-4216, Monday to Friday, Governor Pack Road, Baguio, P300, Rapid: 30 minutes
Pasig City Health Development, 640-0111, Monday to Friday, A. Mabini St., Caloocan City Hall, Free of charge, Within an hour
Baguio City Social Hygiene Clinic, 442-9800, Monday to Friday, Baguio Health Service Offices T. Alonzo Street, Baguio City, Free (For employment fee: P225.00)
Tabuk III Rural Health Unit, Bulanao, Tabuk City, Kalinga
Ilocos Training and Regional Medical Center, 607-6413, Monday to Friday, Barangay Parian, San Fernando, La Union, Free, Rapid: 1 hour
La Union Medical Center, 607-6418, Monday to Friday
San Fernando City Social Hygiene Clinic, 888-6916, Monday to Friday, 2nd floor, Marcos Building, Lucero Street, Barangy 1, San Fernando City, La Union, Free, Rapid: 1 hour Confirmatory: 3 weeks
Pangasinan Provincial Hospital, 532-2603, Bolingit, San Carlos City, Pangasinan
RI Medical Center, 532-2603, Arellano St., Dagupan City, Pangasinan
Mariano Marcos Memorial Hospital, Batac, Ilocos Norte
Candon Social Hygiene Clinic, Candon City, Ilocos
Santiago Social Hygiene Clinic, 305-2775, Monday to Friday, 1st floor, City Hall, San Andres, Free, 1 hour
Ilgan City Health Office, Monday to Friday, Brgy. Magsaysay, Alicia, Isabela
Solano Social Hygiene Clinic, Monday to Friday,
Bayombong Provincial Health Office, Monday to Friday, Capitol Compound, Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya
Bambang Social Hygiene Clinic, Monday to Friday
Cabangan Social Hygiene Clinic, Poblacion Cabangan, Zambales
Narra Social Hygiene Clinic, Monday to Friday, Magsaysay Street, Poblacion, Narra, Palawan, Free, Rapid: 1 day
Caloocan City Social Hygiene Clinic, 288-8811, open Monday to Friday, A. Mabini St., Caloocan City Hall, Free of charge, Test results released in 15-20 minutes
Puerto Princesa Social Hygiene Clinic, 434-6581, Monday to Friday, Valencia Street, Barangay Model, Free, Rapid: 20 minutes Confirmatory: 2-3 weeks

Love Yourself


There are also institutions such as LoveYourself that exist primarily to guide you and prepare you with your HIV screening tests. They also provide counseling and HIV/AIDS education to spread awareness and stop the occurrence of an epidemic among youth and the affected part of the population.

They are open from Mondays to Sundays. They offer free-of-charge and confidential HIV tests in all of their testing locations. Here’s a list of LoveYourself HIV testing centers taken from their website.

LoveYourself Testing Centers

LoveYourself Welcome (Espana / Blumentritt St., Manila, Near Welcome Rotonda)
Their office is open every day except Sundays and Mondays. They offer HIV tests free-of-charge. They have a friendly, warm, and non-discriminatory staff. They’re located at 858 Blumentritt Road corner Remedios Street, Sampaloc, Manila, near the intersection of Espana and Blumentritt, near Welcome Rotonda.

Phone: 0967 207 1976
Operating hours: Tuesdays to Saturdays
2 PM TO 11 PM (Cut-off* time: 10PM)

LoveYourself Anglo (Shaw Blvd., Mandaluyong City)
Their office is open every day except Mondays and Tuesdays. HIV test is free-of-charge. Friendly, warm, and non-discriminatory staff. They’re located at Unit 5, 3/F, Anglo Building, #715-A Shaw Boulevard, Mandaluyong City. (3-minute walk from Shaw MRT Station, just behind Star Mall EDSA). You can find them on the 3rd floor of a yellow building with Anglo Hardware on the ground floor.

Phone: 0915 172 3707 (they do not respond to texts, only calls)
Operating hours: Wednesdays to Saturdays 12 NN TO 7 PM
Sundays 9 AM TO 2 PM
Monday and Tuesday CLOSED

LoveYourself Uni (Taft Ave., Pasay City)
Their office is open every day except Mondays and Tuesdays. Friendly, warm, and non-discriminatory staff. They offer HIV test for free. You can find their office at 2028 Taft Avenue Extension, Pasay City. The center is conveniently situated close to LRT-1 Gil Puyat or Buendia station on the northbound lane of Taft Avenue. On the ground floor of the building is a building.

Phone: (02) 256-9384
Operating Hours: Wednesdays to Saturdays 12 NN TO 7 PM
Sundays 9 AM TO 2 PM
Monday and Tuesday CLOSED

Victoria By LoveYourself (Park Avenue, Manila)
Formerly known as the Victoria Health and Wellness Center, Victoria by LoveYourself (VLY), is the first community center that offers services specializing in the needs of transgender (TG) persons. Other than the usual HIV screening and counseling services, the community center also offers hormone management, and pre-GAS (gender-affirming surgery) assessment and counseling. If you’re interested, you can go and inquire more about these services by going through the contact details below.

When LoveYourself Uni and LoveYourself Anglo are closed, you can go to the community center. They provide HIV screening and counseling services to everyone from Saturdays to Wednesdays (12nn to 7 PM).

They’re open five days a week for hormone replacement therapy consultations. Please take note that they are per appointment only from Saturday to Wednesday. You can find VLY at 2/F Torres Bldg., 2442 Park Avenue, Pasay City, Metro Manila, Philippines 1302. The center is along Libertad, Pasay.

Phone: +639158318715
Free Doctor’s Consultation* for Hormone
Replacement Therapy (HRT) for TGs
Saturday to Wednesday

BY APPOINTMENT ONLY (5–7 PM time slots)
*To schedule your free HRT consult, you are
required to fill out a Client Signup Form

HIV Screening and Counselling Services for all
Saturday to Wednesday
12 NN TO 7 PM

Thursday and Friday

Lily By LoveYourself (San Martin De Porres, Paranaque)
Lily is a joint effort by LoveYourself and another Community-based organization, DIOSSA. The center offers their HIV tests free-of-charge. More than this, they pride themselves on having a friendly, warm, and non-discriminatory staff. They also provide HIV screening and counseling services to everyone six days a week from Tuesday to Sunday (12nn to 9 pm). You can access Lily by LoveYourself x DIOSSA at 5th Floor, Pineda Building, #98 Manalac Ave., Sitio De Asis, San Martin de Porres, Paranaque City.

Phone: 0977-7969227 0928-6896422
Tuesday to Sunday 12 NN TO 9 pm

Help Spread HIV Awareness: Be a LoveYourself Volunteer!

LoveYourself Volunteer

Be part of something meaningful by joining LoveYourself in their mission to spread HIV awareness.

Although most of their activities are in Manila, LoveYourself accepts volunteers from all over the country. Anyone of legal age, whatever gender, sexuality, race, creed, education, or work background you have, you’re welcome to join. You can undergo training and orientation to be a better member of the LoveYourself community and to serve the HIV advocacy better. Simply visit their website to find out how you can join. You’ll be required to fill up a signup form and will be contacted soon.

Lauvette is dedicated to educating the country about the practice of safe sex. We are in partnership with LoveYourself in spreading HIV awareness and helping the affected population. For every purchase you make in our online store, we donate a percentage of it to the LoveYourself organization.

Lost your password? Please enter your email address. You will receive a link to create a new password via email.