December 15, 2017

Project Headshot Clinic X (2017) 10th Year Series for World AIDS Day

If your good friend tells you that he (or she) is HIV positive, what would you do?

Award winning photographer Niccolo Cosme responded with his artist’s soul by creating a themed photo exhibit in support of his friend, Wanggo Gallaga., who had been diagnosed HIV-positive in 2008. Headshot Clinic – Aware featured 80+ photos that showed a distinctive red mark on the faces of the friends and supporters who participated in the first Headshot Clinic exhibit on HIV in 2008. Fast forward to 2017 -- the tenth Headshot Clinic on HIV, featuring 226 photos, with friends who had been there from the start as well as hundreds of other supporters and advocates who had become part of the growing movement for HIV awareness advocacy.

This year, Headshot Clinic X, the tenth of a series, was launched online on the eve of December 1, a day globally recognized as World AIDS Day, with an on-site exhibit at Pineapple Lab in Makati on December 6, 2017. The program for the on-site exhibit featured an interpretative dance whose movements enhanced the reading of Beneath my Skin, a poem written by Wanggo Gallaga. The artists who collaborated for the event include Raflesia Bravo, Zyda Baaya, Jobelle Nunez, Jared Luna, Mara Marasigan, Anthony Falcon and Gabby Padilla with costumes by Leeroy New. Plaques of appreciation were given to 10 individuals who had supported Headshot Clinic in various ways through the years. The support of organizational partners and sponsors such as The Red Whistle, Save The Children, Pineapple Lab, #SafelyPH, Drink Manila, Remy Martin, Davinci Gourmet Philippines and Epson Philippines contributed to the success of the event.

The growth and expansion of Headshot Clinic is evident in the hundreds of people who have participated in this social media campaign, the number organizations that have supported the exhibits, and the depth of commitment of people who have played key roles in ensuring the success of the campaign. After conceptualizing and setting up the first exhibit, Niccolo Cosme intensified his engagement in HIV campaigns, and co-founded The Red Whistle, an organization that seamlessly blends advocacy, photography, and social media. The Red Whistle volunteers and celebrity ambassadors tirelessly work in partnership with local governments, universities, and civil society organizations to conduct HIV education that would lead to an increase in the number of people who get tested and know their HIV status. Knowing your HIV status is central to the prevention of HIV, and early diagnosis saves lives as well as prevents new infections. HIV testing and treatment in the Philippines are free and confidential in government clinics and hospitals across the country.

To facilitate access to HIV testing, the #SafelyPh app was developed, serving as a locator for HIV services. The app is being further enhanced to provide additional services and information on HIV. The development of the #SafelyPh app was supported by Save the Children, which serves as the Principal Recipient of the country’s financial grant from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria. Save the Children had supported the activities of The Red Whistle in 2016 and 2017, contributing significantly to the expanding reach of HIV educational campaigns using social media, and an increased uptake of testing services.

The Philippines has one of the fastest growing HIV epidemics in the world, and HIV prevention campaigns need to expand faster than the epidemic. Social media has the potential to reach a vast audience, and its potential can be further realized as netizens view, share and comment. The online exhibit of Headshot Clinic X can be viewed at

For videos and a fun approach to HIV education, check out The Red Whistle at

Download the #SafelyPh app for information on testing services.

As Niccolo Cosme had noted, “We can prevent the spread of HIV, one Headshot at a time.”

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