Ubermensch: In A Glimpse

Monday, December 20, 2010

Two Years Ago

Its exactly two years today when I met the man that forever changed my life, literally and figuratively. Yes, he WAS my boyfriend, and we went on for a year and a half. He was the man who I had the best and the worst of life.

I was living THE life. Young. Driven. Ambitious. I was an achiever.

Then came a sudden halt. I met him.I decided to settle down. Live a domestic life.

I was happy. We were happy.

I know for once, I LOVE!

I guess I was overwhelmed by Love. I let myself be consumed by love. I let my defenses down.

We've spent the days as real lovers in love. We went to places. We explore new things. We made love.

Fast forward. 11 months after, we both tested positive.

My heart was broken. I was living the life, and in love. Young. Driven. Ambitious. And I am positive.

I was devastated. I was in denial at first. I cannot be positive. I have always been tested, and always tested negative.

He, on the other had, has not been tested in three years. He knew he could be positive, but remained quiet.

I wanted to blame him. But I wouldn't blame anybody for the choices I make. I chose to love.

Now, two years since I met him, and a little more than a year being positive, I am a new man.

Not so Young. At times Indifferent. Distraught.

But despite all that, I LOVED!

Two years ago, I met a guy. He gave me the best the worst.

I am forever thankful.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

I am (NOT) Stubborn!

I am due for my second CD4 Test this month. The last time, I was at 260. I am hoping for at least +50.

I went to PGH last Wednesday to get my schedule for my second CD4 Test and also to have my check up since I have been having bad cough and colds for a few days now. I also am feeling unusually weak recently. I am not sure if it is just the usual psychosomatic me, but in any case, I decided to get checked.

The findings-- I am NORMAL. My doctor checked my temperature, breathing, and all vital signs and all came up normal. She asked me about my cough and colds, and if I am doing anythin about it, and I told her, I am just taking lots of liquids and vitamins in the past 3-4 days. I have been trying NOT to take medicines as much as I can and just let my body function as normal, but I know at times, it is failing me. Still, I give it a chance, and my doctor agreed on it. She advised me to just forego taking cough and cold meds or any antibiotics just yet, but if my cough and cold persists until next week, then I have to go back to her to get checked further.

And so, we proceeded to discussing my ARV (yet again).

Although I've agreed to start with the treatment already, I have yet to complete a few more test (i.e., Hepa Profile and Syphilis). Its been a little more than 2weeks since I told my doctor that I will complete the remaining tests so I can start with the ARV, but still haven't done so. I am committed to having it completed before the year ends, though. So, with that, we ended the session with a good laugh, with her saying "Ikaw ang pinaka pasaway kong pasyente (you are my most stubborn patient".)

Moving forward, my scheduled CD4 test at San Lazaro. I went down with a bad cold and fever the morning of my scheduled test and was not able to get off my bed. In short, I missed it. I told Celene (the Nurse in charge of scheduling), but as usual, I think that my next schedule will be 2-3 months from now.  I couldn't complain, though. Thats just how it works.

For the meantime, I'm trying NOT to worry about it all. I am taking it one thing at a time. I am trying to (re)build my constitution and (still) trying to be as healthy as I can, get this cough and cold out. I've been doing a lot of bed-rest for the past few days, working from home, and hopefully, I'll feel better in no time.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Death Note

I was watching Glee's "Special Education", and a particular scene got my curiosity-- Rachel asking Kurt "Do you ever fantasize about your own funeral?" I mean, how many people actually fantasize, or even think, to say the least, about their own Death?

Admittedly, I've been through that stage of being absolutely intrigued with death. I've been drawn to morbid interests early on starting through my Romeo and Juliet, and titanic and holocaust phase. It then grew into my obsession with Quentin Tarantino and war movies, until I discovered the concept of suicide when I was in the University. I even spent a great deal of research to know and understand suicide not just in a general and ordinary everyday discourse, but most of the underlying philosophical concepts about it.

I was also very into the discussions I conduct in my classes about Death and Dying. I loved my discussion on the metaphysics of death, the ethics of dying, and the many philosophical aspects of it. I can surely talk about Death, but I realized after a while that I was talking about Death as a concept, and NOT the experience of Death as related to my person, that is MY Death.

I am not gonna talk about what Death is (or what it is not as others prefer to talk about it)as a general concept. I would instead talk about MY views on MY Death.

So how do I like my death to be?

I want death to come in my 40s. I don't wanna die (too) old. I think I would have accomplished a lot at that age. I don't want the mere redundancy of living, so one experience of things and events would be enough for me. I would have traveled to (most) places I always wanted to be in, have eaten most of the food I wish, and things like that, and the ones I have yet to experience, I can just let them stay like that. Afterall, I don't need to experience everything in life, but rather, just need to experience what I have.

I don't want a weeklong wake. I just want it to last 2-3 days. I don't need a lot of people to come and visit my wake, too. I'd have a list of the people I want to be there, and its gonna be just a short list.

I am not really particular on how my casket would be. It can go in the shade of white, but I'd like it to be grayish or silver.

I want my clothes to be changed everyday in the 2-3 days that I would lie in my coffin, open for public viewing. I want my purple long sleeves, with a dark gray/silver tie and a black slim cut coat on my first day, then a classic black shirt and a red tie (still with the coat), on my second day, and finally, a 3-piece suit (white shirt with a butterfly tie and a vest, just like one in those classic movies)on my last day.

I want my wake to be at my aunt's place in the province (where my dad was laid on his last days), not too far from my family's house. Its a family house at a hill, with an open greenery, and a nice 360 degree view of everything in the surrounding. I want it to be quiet, and far from the busy city life. I feel like I've been in the city for most of my life, and would like to be back home on my last days.

I want my mom, and the rest of the family to do the traditional 'cooking' for my guests. My mom cooks very well, and I want her to cook the one I usually cook. My cooking has always been compared to my mom, and for the last time, I would like to have people taste how I usually do 'food'.

I already have a playlist prepared for my wake. I want these songs to be played repeatedly in my wake:

In the Arms of an Angel (Sarah McLachlan)
Strangers in the Sky (Jason Mraz)
Such Great Heights (Iron and Wine)
Collide (Howie Day)
I've Had a Time of My Life (Any version)
Fame (Irene Cara)

I also want a photo presentation on the last day of the wake. I want my friends to share photos I have with them.

Finally, I want my friend, L, or J, to do the Eulogy.

This isn't a farewell post. Neither do I feel Death coming,well, at least not so soon I hope.

Its just one of those days.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Year That Was

Last night was my first anniversary as a poz. I had a strong urge to go (back) to Malate where I first found out about IT. But unlike last year, I didn't have my friends with me. I opted to go on my own, and just look back.

I looked back at the whole year that was, and noted a few HIV related things and events which have caused me heartbreaks, anxious moments, as well those that taught me some important life lessons. Lemme run down my list:

1. I found out through a random test conducted in Malate that I was indeterminate, while my (then)BF was positive on Nov. 28. I managed to stay calm the night and partied with the rest of my friends, but had my hardest cry when we got home. My cry was more for my (then)BF, than it was for me. I assured him  that WE will go though it together. A year later, I am no longer with him. We broke up in August, but I kept the promise that I'll go through IT with him. We don't see each other often, but we still get to check each other once in a while.

2. I received an offer for a teaching position at the Royal Academy in Saudi in February, but had to decline the offer. I know I simply can't accept the offer due to my status. I applied in September for a teaching position knowing I was (still) negative (since I just tested negative in July), and had to go through a rigid selection process, only to end up not able to accept an offer. This caused me a major heartbreak. I'd love to be back in the academe (and be compensated accordingly), but I guess I have to put my passion parked at the moment.

3. I broke up with my (then)BF in April, and met J (again, after not seeing him for more than half a year). J has then become my source of strength and inspiration. No, we are not romantic, but he has always been there to give me constant reminders of the things.

4. I developed my first HIV-related infection (or at least I think) in May. My chickenpox virus have been reactivated and developed into Herpes Zoster or shingles. I had to experience pain I never knew before. I still see the marks left by my shingles now, though they're no longer as visible as before, and still feel the pain in my nerves at times, but I learned to overcome and manage pain.

5. I had another nudge of my HV reality in a form of another infection in July. I had a small wound in my pointer finger which grew to a very big infection, that it raptured (for a lack of better word) half of my finger. It took me more than a month and countless antibiotics to get my wound dry up and finally heal. I felt HIV knockin in as my body cease to repair itself anymore.

6. I finally decided to take on a new job, and undergo pre-employment medical examination in September. I was initially tagged 'Unfit to Work' and had to retake some tests, blood tests in particular. Anxiety attacked as I got too worried I may not pass the med exam and not get the job, and at worst, may be forced to disclosure. 

7. I came into terms with myself and finally decided to start on ARV in November. I am just finalizing my baseline test (I have yet to take my Hepa and Syphilis profile) and I can start. I am ready.

I know its still gonna be a long way, and it may prove harder. As if life is not hard enough without having to face living with something as serious a HIV positive diagnosis. I have allowed my self to feel so low and beat down.  I guess its normal and it is better than face the bigger challenge of dealing with my feelings of self-betrayal.

I choose to share these words of hope and empowerment with you for yourself or someone who may know someone going through what may be the hardest thing they have gone through, life has not ended ; it has just begun.

Friday, November 19, 2010

IT Is (still) There. (Almost) A Year with HIV

Its been almost a year now since I found out about my sero status. Its also been almost a year now that I feel like I’ve got one foot in HIV and one foot out. Its like I’m doing the hokey pokey, and my body can’t decide which it wants to be.

I have been living in reality of being an HIV positive daily for almost a year now. I have gotten my random test result in November last year, and that has taken my life a 180 degree, not really a whole 360 turn. Not that I don’t go hours or days without HIV on my mind. That will be an exaggeration. But in most days I will have an HIV thought brush my reality, just a little nudge to remind me that IT is still there.

There were, and there still are times I am overcomed by 'habit' of the normal life. I mean, c'mon, afterall, I have lived a life free from HIV for 27 years and have gone accustomed to the 'normal' ways. Thats all I knew, until all of a sudden, 'normal' has to be redefined. For good measure, about every once in a while, I need a little shaking up just to remind myself I am never fully ever going to be free of HIV.

No, am not consumed. I am not consumed by the fact that I am HIV positive, and that I can only do either this-or-that now. There are times I just to surrender to what my body allows me to do, say stay all day (in bed) due to dizziness from the antibiotics I had take to fight a (minor) infection (from a wound) that my body is having a hard time to fight. I may have been limited by my pathological status, but that is all. Other than those instances, I go by as 'normal'. After all, everyone goes through some moments of 'having to be in bed', HIV positive or otherwise.

And things get better everyday. It is easier to live and I have slowly learned to go by the ropes. I have finally decided I'll start with my ARV in the next few weeks. With my CD4 at 260 (since June), and the countless justifications and the countless attempt to outsmart myself, I have finally came into terms with myself and resolve to start with the regimen. I just need to complete the baseline tests and I am set.

For sure, for the next few days or weeks upon taking the ARVs, will take another strong nudge to remind me ITS there. And as usual, I won't deny it. I take it with open arms. Its part of me.

One thing remains, though. Despite all these, Life goes on!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Revisiting the Ubermensch

Its been a while since I decided to put my writing at bay. Aside from having not much time to get my thoughts in coherence, I think I simply lack the interest. And so what other ways to go back in track? I decided to re-examine where I started, the Ubermensch.

I planned to blog about the films I watched, the weekend sessions with J, some random thoughts that pop out when am on my way to work, planned to post an entry about "a person without a backbone" or “lack of foresight” and many other random thoughts, but yeah, planned, and they remained that way. Well, just didn’t have any mood for blogging. Today I got a bit better organized, and cannot wait to tap my keyboard again!

Lets start with some 'catch-up' before we do some intellectual masturbation.

I finally (re)visited my doctor at PGH last week, and advised her that I have made up my mind and I will start with my ARV. Its been a while since I was diagnosed HIV positive (November 2010) and found out that my cd4 count is not very good. As of June 2010, I stand at 260. However, despite the recognition that it wasn't in a very good standing, I chose to outsmart, well more of justify not starting ARV. Afterall, I STILL feel 'normal'. Was I at the 'denial' stage? I know I am not. There is a recognition of the state of affair. I have long accepted that I am HIV positive, and that sooner or later, i would have to go through the 'usual' regimen an HIV. But at the same time, I didn't wan't to commit to something unless I am ready, in all aspect. I just believed that it is the more proper definition of acceptance-- that is accepting the state of affairs, but at the same time, accepting one's limitations. It is not simply embracing something because "you have to". Sometimes, doing things just because you 'have to' can be fucked up.

And so, I went to PGH last week with J to see my doctor and discuss to her how I would like to proceed. I will be completing the baseline test, and is looking at starting with the treatment by end of November, my first anniversary as an HIV positive. With that, I am settled.

Moving on, the past few weeks have been pretty stable. It has mostly been home-work for me on weekdays, and either a "Me-Time" or "We-Time" during weekends. I couldn't complain. Things are more or less in their proper places. Although I know things could be a lot better, and that I can be more than what I am now, I chose to embrace things, take them with open arms though at times I think they are pretty fucked up.

I think that is what happen when you keep pushing yourself. After a while, you just want to settle. Not that I've gone intellectually lazy, nor suddenly lost the rigor. Just that at this point in time, I felt like I've had my fair share of things, both success and failure, and I can afford to feel that things are fucked up at times. I think I have pushed myself VERY early on in my life. I have pushed myself to be an achiever, to be above most people my age and my generation, and have been successful in it. I have gotten most of what I wanted early in my life. But unlike what they say that there is no other way but to go up, I chose to be stationary this time, to take a moment and appreciate what I have, appreciate things though at times they may be fucked up.

I know I have always glorified the Ubermensch. I have always believed that the ubermensch would do what most people only dream of doing. He would test himself and his vision against the strength of the world. Ultimately, the Ubermensch would be a law unto himself. He would decree his morality and enforce it on himself.

But at the same time, I believe that the Ubermench himself takes some moments to be at peace with one's self. After reading Nietzsche for years, I've concluded the Ubermensch is that feeling you have when you turn on the television, turn on the radio, go in public and especially when you read youtube comments. You know that feeling of “What the fuck is this shit?”

The Ubermensch is that which also recognizes “What the fuck is this shit?” and would take some moment thinking what the fuck is this shit.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

In a Vacationship

I have never really given it a thought, but if I come to think of it, I have been in a lot of 'vacationships'.

I have been with someone I met on my way back to my hotel room in one visit to Boracay, with someone I met over the net in Baguio, with someone I lock over lox at the breakfast buffet in Singapore. These are just a few of the many vacationships I can remember. The dynamics is very simple-- I like you, you like me, lets give it a shot. The next thing you know is that you become a twosome, sharing the vacation experience without any history to cloud the clean slate of new romance.

I had nothing to do last night so I said yes to a friend's invitation to go to a bath house in Metro Manila. I used to be a regular in that bath house but I haven't been there for 6 months now. It felt good being back. I was greeted by the usual loud voice of 'the manager' and the warm welcome by the 'bar people' who I used to hang out with. I used to always stay at the bar area, and only at the bar area, of the bath house so I pretty know much of the bar regulars. I won't deny though that at times, I'd sneak out to the maze just to do the 'old-time' chasing game.

Anyway, soon as I finished the courtesy greeting to the bar fellow, I started observing, as if I am new to the place (again). Thats when I spotted a guy at the gym area pumping some iron. I can see that most eyes are into him, too. Boy, hes a hot one. I told my friend I like him. I tried not to be too obvious, though. I don't want to be in 'obvious' competition with the rest of the guys eyeing him.

Things were 'normal', I mean me talkin to people, having a good laugh at the bar area, and occasionally spotting at some guys. I was having fun, though, so I never really mind Mr. Hotguy-Pumping-Iron.

I decided to excuse myself from the bar and went to hit the jacuzzi. Mr. Hotguy-Pumping-Iron was there when I got there, and there were 2 guys with him in the jacuzzi. I decided to join them. He was just there, sitting quietly, while the 2 guys looked very anxious. I knew they were brewing something in their head. I can see one of them trying to get closer to Mr. Hotguy-Pumping-Iron, while the other was working his hands toward's the guy's 'precvious'. I remained oblivious, just drinkin my beer at the tub.

I can feel that Mr. Hotguy-Pumping-Iron is starting to get a bit uncomfortable with the two guys preying on him. He moved closer to me, then our knees touched. I then got finally tempted to extend my hand and gave him a squeeze at his shoulders. He never resisted. I took away the oblivious look in my face and gave him a smile, and he smiled back. I then excused myself and left the tub to go back to the bar and grab my next bottle.

After getting my bottle, I saw Mr. Hotguy-Pumping-Iron now sitting alone at a chair not too far from the bar area. I gathered my courage and finally approached him. I offered him a bottle of beer and he politely accepted the offer. Boy, I couldn't miss the chance. I got him engaged in a nice conversation to the point that we would laugh out loud, and the bar fellows noticed that I was with him.

Now the all the attention is on us. But he didn't mind. We would kiss and touch each other unmindful of the (many) eyes looking at us. He said he liked me, and that of all the guys he saw that night, he found me the most attractive but he just didn't know how to approach. He is a NOT Filipino and is only here for a (business) trip.

Mr. Hotguy-Pumping-Iron is Italian. I would have guessed that from the start, but had second thought as he looked like a Filipino-with-a-mix at the same time. He's Italian features are not very pronounced. He said it is because he is a mix of Italian and Colombian.

Moving on, I spent the rest of my time in the bar with him. We talked and drink and kissed and cuddled, until he popped the question--if I have a BF. I said none, which is true. I know where will the conversation go, so I told him my idea of 'vacationships', and he liked it. The next thing we know, we are in a 'vacationship'.

I understand this concept doesn't appeal to everyone. But I take it as a relationship for convenience, with no expectations that it will be sustained. I mean, you just happen to be two people who happen to like each other AT THAT MOMENT, and would want to share that moment together and as long as it last and as long as the chance permits, so why then not give yourself a chance?

Thats what exactly we are doing-- we enjoy the moment as much as we can, or until someone needs to board the next plane.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Its Just Coffee!

Nothing can be worst than a mediocre coffee early in the morning.

I was not able to prepare my own cup today as I was running late for the office. I decided to get a quick cup at the dispenser at the office pantry soon as I got to work to have my doze of caffeine only to be disappointed-- I got a cup filled with hot water, barely colored, and does not resemble coffee in any way imaginable. To my dismay, emptied the semi-colored hot water and took the cup, got a sachet and settled for instant coffee. I wasn't the happiest this morning.

This is one of the few times I miss my (ex)bf. He used to wake up early in the morning to prepare my hot cup while I take a bath and prepare myself to work. He knows exactly how I like my cup-- bitter sweet.

Sometimes, I am thinking, if only boyfriends are like instant coffee, then I would have gotten one from the corner store. But on a second thought, I realize I really do not like things instant. So I'd rather remain single.

Despite the convenience and availability, I purposely shy away from fast food, ready-to-eat, or simply things 'instant'. I am simply not fond of them. Although I get tempted to settle for them in times when choice is more of a luxury, I'd prefer to have things the hard way. I get more satisfaction brewing my coffee (or seeing someone brew it for me), cooking my own pasta from fresh ingredients, baking my own potato, or simply boiling my egg.

I remember a text message I got from B, the guy I am dating for a while now. He said "Do not just settle for the one who buys you coffee. Go with the one that will prepare it for you."

Efforts count. Thats what he wanted to tell me. And thats what make a perfect coffee.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

I Am Fine!

I have not been writing for a while. I dunno why. I am fine. I mean, I am happy. Someone is keeping me happy. Something is keeping me happy.

Maybe I am simply lazy, but I AM FINE!

Just a few updates, though, for whatever reason or purpose it may serve.

First, I haven't seen J for two weekends now. I know he must be busy. What's interesting is that he reacted on my previous post over the weekend. I dunno whatever reason he had, but he had to explain himself, which I least expected. I mean, I am fine with him having to say 'no' to me sometimes. I am fine that we don't see each other every weekend. I am fine that he has a boyfriend. I am fine that he goes his way while I go mine.

Don't get me wrong. I highly respect the guy. I would always speak highly of the guy. I know he means well. What I don't understand is that why he needed to explain. I know my previous post was brought up by my desire to be with him and the frustrations of having otherwise, but like what I always say, I AM FINE. I have no demands from him. Yes, it is hard handling frustrations, but at the same time, I am taking things maturely as much as I can. And when I say I am fine, that means I am fine.

Moving on, I heard today that my ex-BF "has a BF". I am FINE with that. Although it hasn't been confirmed, if ever that is the case, I can say I am fine. I my not be the happiest person (since I don't like the new guy much, not out of jealousy nor insecurity-- that's the least I have-- but out of the presumption that he cannot take care of my ex as much. I have gone and grown to be very protective of my ex over time, and only want him the best, and from what I hear, the guy fails on that area. i am not in the position to judge, though.) but then again, I am FINE.

I have  also been seeing a guy for a little more than a week now. He is a very fine gentleman. I met him at a house party of a common friend few months ago, and never heard anything about him after that until we found each other online. I know I like him, and would like to think he likes me the same. However, we are taking things lightly, which is not at all a bad thing. Nothing is forced. we just let things go as they should. So far, so good. I am Fine with how things are going with us, and looking forward to the coming days.

Finally, work is fine. Things are going smoothly with my new job. However, I have not been able to go to the office for three days now due to my sore eyes (may it be conjunctivitis, an insect bite, or a sty, i cannot tell.), but everything is fine. Afterall, there is not much need for me to be in the office yet as I can work from home, which I have been doing for a while now. Aside from the discomfort this swollen and itchy and teary red left eye brings, i guess everything is FINE.

Generally, I am FINE with only the occasional freak out!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Status Quo

Imagine relationship (YOUR relationship) in a scale of One to Ten.

We all know that we want a relationship that is a TEN(or as close as possible). Then again, that is ideal, specially when it concerns Mr. Unavailable.

Well, thats the case. All you can hope is to be able to make it work.

So how the hell does this all work?

At the beginning, Mr. Unavailable blows hot to reel you in. At times you will feel like you are approaching the holy grail of ten.

Then the novelty will wear off for him. He’ll think you’re getting too close or that you want too much, so he starts blowing cold and lukewarm to bring the temperature of the relationship to Magic Number FIVE. He is simply managing down your expectations so that you learn what you will be getting from him.

Mr. Unavailable’s (emotionally unavailable men) like to keep the relationship in the comfort zone of Magic Number FIVE.

His blowing hot and cold is about managing your expectations of him and the relationship, but it is also about bringing the relationship back to FIVE The Status Quo.

You, being the ‘Accidental Drama Seeker’ and  the 'Fall-back', will be forced to come out of the hazy glow of the relationship and all of his charm, and you’ll be brought back to earth with a thud. You will either pull some serious drama that will either take it below five or you will throw just enough drama into the mix to force him to blow hot again and take things a couple of notches above FIVE.

When it gets below Magic Number FIVE, you panic. When it gets below Magic Number FIVE, you’re in you’re drama seeking comfort zone. YOUR Status Quo. ‘Accidental Drama Seekers' are always scared. You don’t trust it when it’s good so you’ll sometimes act up a bit just to prove he’s the assclown that he is, which pushes the relationship below FIVE.

Of course, when things go below Magic Number FIVE, he either blows lukewarm by saying just enough to re-establish The Status Quo and gets it back to Magic Number FIVE or he’ll blow hot to take things above Magic Number FIVE and buy himself some peace and quiet for a while. And then blow a little cold or lukewarm to ease you back to Magic Number FIVE.

However, when it is above Magic Number FIVE, you are likely to be suspicious and to be fair, despite your penchant for drama, you actually have good reason. You know the drill. You know the score. You know the pattern. You know he’ll say just enough doo doo to shut you up for a bit and then it’ll be back to same sh*t, different week.

The process simply goes on.

Now, pardon my oversimplification. I am simply having my drama moments.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Advocacy: Fully Finance the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM) was established in 2002 to respond to public health and human rights crises caused by the ever escalating global HIV, TB and Malaria epidemics.

Since its inception, the impacts of the Global Fund on the health and well-being of communities across the globe has been unprecedented, having mobilised USD19.3 billion to support access to life-saving HIV, TB and Malaria treatments, and prevention and education initiatives in 144 countries. This investment has saved 4.9 million lives, and continues to prevent 3600 deaths everyday.

The Global Fund currently provides for communities affected by the three diseases across the world – mothers, fathers, children, young people, women, sex workers, men who have sex with men, drug users, migrants, prisoners, amongst others – their best chance for access to life-saving drugs and commodities, and the creation of contexts where vulnerability to the three disease is reduced.

The Global Fund has enabled the development of health and community systems the world over, providing many millions in the developing world a chance to realise their fundamental rights to access improved health services, and to health and life.

2010 marks the Third Voluntary Replenishment Process. The replenishment process is critical not only to the future of the Global Fund, but also to many millions whom depend on it for life-saving treatment, commodities, support, and services. The replenishment is not just about money.

It is about LIVES.

It is about PEOPLE.

It is about JUSTICE.

It is about EQUITY.

The Third Voluntary Replenishment Meeting will be held in New York, from 4th to 5th October 2010. International leaders, governments and donors will come together to ‘pledge‘ their financial commitments to the Global Fund for the coming three years. The replenishment MUST raise USD20 billion (find out more about the 3 scenarios here) if the hard earned gains of the last eight years are to be sustained and accelerated.

Anything less will mean lives lost – today, tomorrow, and for many years into the future.

We can not allow for this to happen. Enough is enough. Fund the Fund.

What will YOU do?

Here are some suggestions:
Please change your profile picture on facebook to the “No Cap No Gap” logo available from the dates of 15th September to 10th October to show your support for the full replenishment of the Global Fund available at http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?id=129087013785338&pid=378654

Sign on to the letter to show your support for international leaders to fully finance the Global Fund at www.globalfundreplenishment.org/sign-on-letter/, available in English, French, Spanish, Russian and Chinese.

Find out what you can do in your country by organising a Day of Global Action, or collaborating with existing activities during the Week of Global Action, for further details please visit www.globalfundreplenishment.org/global-week-of-action

***This is completely reposted from http://www.globalfundreplenishment.org/no-cap-no-gap/ except the photo.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Wrong(?) Yet Feels So Right

Ever had a feeling that things are wrong yet feels so right?

I just got home. Tired yet unusually happy. I just came from a late afternoon spent with J. Sure, we have been going out for weekend late afternoon lunch and coffee, casual talks or a stroll for a while now, but today's meeting feels rather 'special.'

Well, it was almost the same thing. I mean I came to meet him for a late afternoon lunch (although I just had coffee creme brulee and drinks since I just came from a heavy lunch with a friend in UP) at Greenbelt, as we usually do. Everything is almost the same, except that this time, his boyfriend joined us.

Yes, he has a boyfriend (lets call him M). They have been together for a while now, and they are going strong. I knew J has a boyfriend when we met (again after not having seen each other for a long time) in April. I had no problems with that. I never found that a reason to stay away from J, however, with the constant reminder to myself at the same time that I wouldn't do anything to cause them trouble in the relationship. 

I like J. OK, I admit, I more than like him. To a certain extent, I can say that I love him. I have never felt a strong emotion toward someone (aside from my ex-bf) like how I feel with J. But at the same time, I know that I cannot push further as I might just blow everything we have now.

I am happy with how things are going on with J and I. I am content with the Sunday brunches we share-- the coffee talk, the late afternoon walk, the silent moments, the text messages-- I couldn't complain. Of course, given a choice, I would gladly have him as my boyfriend, but I know that's not going to happen, at least not now.

I also don't think its ever gonna happen. Not to be pessimistic whatsoever, but J and I already resolved many times that we are not compatible. Aside from some common interests as intellectual conversation, arts, love for 'finer' things, we jut can't seem to fit. We are like the same magnets with the same polarity, and we repel each other, at least romantically.

We have managed to maintain a very good relationship throughout the time we've been together. We have gone even closer when I disclosed to him my sero-status in August. However, just like any relationships, may it be romantic or otherwise, it  isn't perfect, I would say, as we have some moment of misunderstanding. But we always try to resolve.

Anyway, I  came to see J today with M. It felt a bit awkward at first, more than to my part, it is to M's. I sense it the moment I entered the room and sat by the table. I tried to shrug it off and remained as casual as I can. J and I talked like we normally do. We shoot random thoughts and take a good laugh at times. M, on the other hand, would whisper to J once in a while. 

This wasn't the first time that M and I be together at the presence of J. We've been in a party once and was able to talk to each. M knew my thing with J. He is also well aware of my story with J even before they became boyfriends. He said he is OK with that, but I am thinking that at the back of his mind must be some thoughts. I also tried NOT to decipher M's thoughts anymore.

I also have to admit that I am not certain about J's thoughts. I don't know how he sees me, or how he feels for me.I can't tell if he feels the same way for me as I feel for him. I chose not to find out. I am more than happy knowing that we are OK together.

With regard to J's relationship with M, I also do not know details of it. I don't ask. I don't inquire. I will leave everything to them.

This now makes me think if this is what we call 'wrong yet feels so right'

When my close friend found out I was seeing J, he told me to go out of the equation. Other friends also are in disapproval about me sticking around J with him being in a relationship. Despite all these, I remain. I decided to go on and keep whatever I have with J.

Everything feels so right whenever I am with J. He never failed to make me happy, to make me see the better side of things, to remind me of things I neglect, to make me think and rethink about things. He is always there to inspire me and keep me going. And most importantly, to always believe in the kindness of hearts and to Love.

This may sound wrong, I know, but my heart says this is right-- I love J and I will stick around, and I hope I make him feel the same as he does to me.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

(Un)Fit to Work

Its my second day with my new job.

After a long break from the corporate set up, I decided to take on a new job. It is not necessarily my dream job.  But I think it is a good job, nonetheless. By good job, I only mean a 'very' attractive compensation package, a 'normal' working schedule, and less toxic than my previous (I assume). Though I had hesitations about taking it as I am afraid and might get bored and would look for a more challenges, I decided to take on the new job anyway. I was more concerned about earning more and getting less stressed this time.

Just when I am all set on my new job, I was called by the company HR earlier today and advised me to re-take my blood test as I was found to have low platelets count. I haven't gotten a "Fit to Work" certificate and would require a second test. I was like "futch!" (that's fuck + bitch = futch) I wouldn't want my job jeopardized because of this. At the same time, the bigger worry I have is having to disclose my sero-status.

I had my medical exam last weekend, and I never remember being asked about my sero-status. I remember being asked about "other known diseases", which I answered "None" to. Honestly, I didn't know how to respond properly to the question. Everything seemed like a blur at that point.

I know there are some legislation in the Philippines about discrimination among people with HIV/AIDS and related disabilities. Of course, there is Republic Act 8504 which states that "The State shall extend to every person suspected or known to be infected with HIV/AIDS full protection of his/her human rights and civil liberties. Towards this end...discrimination, in all its forms and subtleties, against individuals with HIV or persons perceived or suspected of having HIV shall be considered inimical to individual and national interest".

For a while I thought of disclosing, but fear sat in and have decided to come up with 'mental' justification for my answer. I convinced myself that the question is not really about my sero-status. Whether that is acceptable or not, I thought that the whole point of medical exams is (simply) to determine fitness to work, and I thought my sero-status doesn't really make me unable to perform essential functions of the job, and as long as I am able to perform my job well, then there wouldn't be a necessity to disclose, well, at least at the moment.

Of course, I have also considered the possibility of me being required to take some time off work for some reason such as (another) infection or complication or when I require medical appointments, or experience (some) side effects should I decide to take some medications soon. I know I cannot compromise these things as they are more serious than a day's worth of my salary. But until then, my viral secret remains.

Anyway, I am going to have my blood sample taken and tested again for a complete blood count (and not HIV) on Saturday. I am not sure if my platelets count will go any better in a few day's time. I remain hopeful. However, in case results prove to be otherwise and further probing on the cause of my low platelet count be done, I am already psyching myself up for a possible discussion of my sero-status.

I know disclosure is just the apparent issue at the moment. I know there is more. I know I have to check on my health again very soon, but I'll take things one by one.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Barking Up the Wrong Tree

HIV/AIDS and related issues need to be everyone's business today. With the recent scare on the rapid increase of HIV cases in the Philippines in the past few months, it is nice to know that both private and government agencies are acting on the clamor to address the issues. But I have to admit that what I find most inspiring are the individuals who take an active role in whatever ways they can to contribute to this herculean task of combating the epidemic.

I have to say, however, that some efforts, although laudable, are not without fault. A (not-so) recent article was shared in my Facebook wall got me to be a bit critical and question some of these (supposed) campaigns. Like most issues, the facts of the matter become considerably less simplistic upon further scrutiny.

ABS-CBNnews.com published an article that attributes the "rise of internet usage" to be (one of) the main "factors that were found to contribute to the rapid spread of HIV in the country." Entitled "HIV patient warns vs. internet sex sites," the article took the story of Wanggo Gallaga as an example to warn the public to NOT engage in sexual relations with people met via Internet (Sex Sites).
"MANILA, Philippines - Magazine editor Wanggo Gallaga, a person living with HIV, warned the youth against having sex with strangers they meet through the internet.

Gallaga, who has openly talked about his sickness since 2008, said in an interview with ABS-CBN News that he engaged in casual sex with random strangers met through "internet pick-up sites."

He says this may have been why he was infected with human immuno-deficiency virus (HIV), a disease that damages the immune system...

...After graduating from a prestigious university and experiencing a tough breakup, Gallaga said he frequented several gay "pick-up" sites on the internet...

So what seems to be the problem with such campaign? Although the intention may be pure and noble, and that is to disseminate information, this campaign clearly commits some fallacy-- ascribing a false cause. To put it idio(ma)tically,  barking up the wrong tree. If we are to follow its reasoning, then everyone who have had sexual relationships with people met online would have had acquired the virus. Of course I am exaggerating!

Looking at the anecdote above, one doesn't have to be a genius to recognize that what gets people to get infected by the virus is the fact that the sexual act was UNSAFE, and the fact that the sexual partner was found online is just an antecedent, merely accidental. The fact remains that the virus can and will be acquired in risky sexual behaviours, regardless of whether the sexual partners are met via the internet, a drinking party, a simple visit at the church and so on.

Furthermore, it may be true that it is easier to find sexual partners via the internet. The whole sexual act can happen in an instant and with very few inconvenience. At the same time, one can have as many sexual partners as one pleases with just merely repeating the process-- send message,swap information then decide to meet up for sex. But it also must be recognize it doesn't really take a lot to get infected. It only takes one unsafe sexual act, and anyone is already opening himself up to the entire possibility of acquiring it.

Admittedly, this approach does little to address the problem right now. Let us address the real issue. It is not where we find our sexual partner, but HOW the sexual act is done. Although we may grant that chances of getting the virus from strangers we find online, the fact remains that the virus can still be caught anywhere, and the only way to avoid contracting it is a safer sexual practice.

Wanggo's heart might be at the right place-- he wants to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS infections. However, while his attempt to combat HIV/AIDS with information, I also believe that what the public needs is NOT simply information, but CORRECT information.

PS: Article in review is found at http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/lifestyle/02/02/10/hiv-patient-warns-vs-internet-sex-sites

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

No Take-Back Policy

I used to have a “never take an ex back” policy. It stopped me from getting into some trouble  like the awkward feeling of the-morning-after-sex-with-an-ex, dropping cash for (un)necessary gifts, headaches from planning dates, and becoming the victim of sheer drunken douchebaggery.

A point needs to be told-- there are some guys you just get over and there’s simply no need for a do-over. You may consider having them as friends, or friends-with benefits if you must, but engaging in another romantic relationship with is simply out of the equation. I have been close to being tempted to taking my third boyfriend back, but decided to stick with my 'policy'.

But as they say, every policy must have an exemption. I, too, have once tried to embrace that 'excuse'-- I have gone through 'an exemption' and decided to give my last relationship a second chance. Lame as it may sound, there are times when we simply give in, for whatever reason it may be, but we just do it.

For those who hasn't followed the story, I was in a very good (live in) relationship with my then boyfriend for seven months until slowly, everything seem to have become a blur. I broke up with him. I sent him out of the condo and we decided to live separate lives (although not quite, as he decided to move in the same condo where I was, only in a different unit. Darn!). We didn't see each other for a while. Neither did we exchange messages via e-mail or text, aside from the few times that we had to to settle 'which-goes-to-whom.'

I 've gone dating during the time that we weren't together (this is when I met J) and I think he dated a few guys too. However, although I have dated a guy, I wasn't so sure if I was ready to hop into a new relationship. J is a very nice guy, and a very good boyfriend material, but at the back of my mind, something is holding me back. I couldn't make my advances to (J) the guy I am dating because I knew there is something left unfinished. I don't know how, but I knew I just knew it.

Then comes the opportunity. The guy am dating (J) decided to go back to his ex-bf, and by sheer and odd synchronosity, I saw my ex bf in the compound the same time J (dumped) me. That was the first time I saw him since the break up. We exchanged greetings but never talked, but I felt a breath of fresh air upon seeing him.  I went back to my unit and saw him online in YM. Finally I sent him a message: "Dress up. Lets go out", and he politely obliged.

We started seeing each other again after that. We were like first time lovers again. We did the same things as we did the first time-- dinner dates, movies, visit to my place and me to his place until we were once again sleeping over at each other's place. The next thing we know, we were lovers, AGAIN!

Our second shot at the relationship went well in most part. It was further strengthened (I think) by the incident of us knowing that we were both HIV positive. I even had a thought for a while that we are gonna be 'forever' until I started to mess up. The culmination of which is the second break up.

We weren't in speaking terms for a few months after the break-up. I decided not to care. I took the conscious effort not to hear from him, nor know what has been going on in his life. But just when I thought everything will just remain like how they were, I took my last chance at somehow fixing my mess. Not for any reason such as guilt or anything like that, I was forced by some friends to attend to his birthday party. I also thought that that might be the last time I am going to see him since I know he will be forced to leave the country any time soon. So with the most casual tone I can, I asked him on his birthday: "Do you hate me?". Then he replied, "No, I do not hate you. I cannot hate you. It took some time for me to absorb everything, but I do not hate you".

We have started talking to each other after that night. I am now comfortable talking to him again, and seeing him once in a while. But at the same time, I refused to break my own childish rule— "no take-backs."

Now I’m left with “what if?” questions. What if I’ll never love any other man as much? Or what if I'll never find any other guy who will love me as much as he did (or he does)? What if I never have sex as good again? What if he is THE ONE? And my personal favorite: What if I’m going to die alone now?

Even more excruciating and existential is the other side of the coin: Am I inflating who he is and what we had? Has he been martyred because he was the one that got away?

Not giving myself another chance is like opening a Pandora’s Box of second-guessing my self. OK, so I kept my pride, but what now? It don't have—him. And all I had to lose was a little bit more time spent trying to figure things out between us.

Unfortunately, now I’m stuck in a moment wondering “what if?”


Sunday, September 5, 2010

Back To Basic

This week was a return to basic, literally.

I am out of town for a week now and my laptop charger broke down so I've nothing better to do (I am thankful that I was able to get a replacement after 5 days). In addition, with just the local channels available on TV, I am left with no better choice but to pick up a piece of paper and a pen to write. I had to revive my lost love affair with writing as I knew it.

I really didn't miss writing. I think I have fallen out of love with the physical act of writing. For a while now, I never had to use a pen and a paper aside from the few times I had to sign a greeting card or have my signature in some documents, a few post it notes to remind me of a few things, and in exceptional circumstances when I had to give my number to some cute guy I meet in some places where no electronic device is available to save my number(i.e, E, O-bar ). Other than that, everything has been done electronically.

My love affair with the physical act of expressing my thoughts and emotions through an ink etched in a clean sheet has been atrophied from the sheer lack of use. Everything these days is done electronically. I write on my very handy laptop, and eventually modify and edit everything, until my thoughts and emotions reach their written form. Which brings me to a realization that the little innocuous technological innovations have totally changed my habits and views more than I can tell, and not just in superficial ways.

Come to think of it. Writing these days seem to be as simple as a work of magic. You essentially have the first draft that simply morphs into a final material through constant tweaking-- a little cut and paste to move one paragraph to another, insert or change the words to whatever you feel is appropriate, scrap a large part which you feel atrocious without the traceable paper trail of the evolution of your piece . In short, your first draft can be as good (or as bad) as your final. What we get it one big blur of revisions.

The same goes with how we live these days. I have to be honest that I have been consumed by the convenience of living a fast paced life, recognizing nothing but today and what today presents. It is of little to no importance how things came to be, but what matters is that things are what they are. I didn't care how my laundry goes from my hamper until it is picked up and all the process involved until it reach my closet ready to be worn. What matters is that I have nice clothes to wear  for a meeting or a night out.

My last conversation with J before I went out of town points to more or less the same lesson-- we only see what is presented to us, and what happens along the way is almost always, if not forgotten, taken for granted.

After finding out about my HIV status earlier this year, I have been mostly caught up with the idea of just going along. Nothing mattered to me more than the fact that I am HIV positive, and that I am limited to the label. I won't exaggerate though, like as if I have gone helpless and all. That will be mad! Just that all the decisions and outlook have mostly been influenced and brought by the recent fact that I am HIV positive now. Everything I knew seemed to have been of less to no significant. It has presented me with a final draft-- a half-baked prose.

As we enjoy an afternoon sun for a Sunday tapa treat in Greenbelt, I told J about my plans, and how I would like to live my life based from how I know my life now. I told him about how I see my life in the next few months, my immediate plans, my aspirations, but all in no more than five years. I didn't want to tell him how I see things after five years. I was afraid they are not going to happen. I was afraid that five years may come too fast and as much as I would like to still do things, I may prove to be already incapable.

I know the picture of HIV has alienated me from myself. I have gone myopic.

Looking back at the things I shared with J, it looks like something is wrong. I have only seen the revised writing of my life without the realization and the reminder how I got a picture of now.

I know I have tried to change and correct a few things to adopt to the current situation. For sure, I have made some bad choices before in the same way that I have had bad choice of words. I have scrapped and revised them as I found convenient. I have also tried to rearrange my life with a little cut and paste. In the same way that I have tried to revise my life based from what I know now, the whole (re)writing seem to have been nothing but one big blur of revisions.

I got into thinking that it is sometimes interesting to go back and see the scratched-out phrases with the red pen to correct my errors and go though the actual act of checking words after words for possible misspelling. The exercise may prove to be more tedious, but at the same time teaches us to become more honest and careful should we decide to rewrite. Honest as we can look back at our original idea and do not simply replace any equivalent no matter how conveniently shift+F7

The red marks of my previous experiences need to be more apparent as I (re)write my life this time. There are things I would like to revise, and the red marks hopefully guide me as they have guided me along the way.

The leanness of off-the-cuff writing of our lives may easily and conveniently be replaced by the soulless, bland pap of over processed writing, but it is always nice to try and go back to the basics.

**PS: This entry is drafted on my niece's 2nd grade paper, those with wide red and blue lines, and a Mongol 2 pencil.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Of Rain and Playing God

On my way to my mom's place for a visit last Sunday, it rained.

I always love the rain. I always find the rain cathartic. I love it when I see the droplets hit a surface and explode like little bombs and scatter into smaller pieces, until they become unrecognizable individually as they join other 'annihilated' droplets and form into something else, maybe muddy water, which will eventually gets flushed down the sewer. I like to see how they self-destruct. That's the morbid part of me. I find beauty in morbidity.

Do not get me wrong. I am not the 'other-step-sister' who would deliberately wish and cause someone else's demise. I do not necessarily find happiness in the helplessness of others, but the realization that I am better off is a consolation in itself. C'mon, basic human instinct!

I know they are nothing but molecules and are not really annihilated. There really isn't any life in question, otherwise I wouldn't have been sounding half the evil guy I am now. That's will be another story altogether if a 'life' is concerned, of course. Anyway, seeing them fall from the sky pure and intact, and eventually disintegrates without resistance from them (selves, if they can at all be attributed selves), is like me having more power than they have. The sense of me having more control of things more than the droplets makes me feel good. The sense of having control of things in general makes us feel good.

I can reach my hand out of the window and end a droplet's way even before it reaches the ground and play god for a while.

This is because at the back of my mind, I realize that I am not a god and that I cannot have things my way all the time. I can try and take control of things around me, but I can only take control of my life as much as I can. There will come a time that somewhere, somehow, a god, though not necessarily the white haired, blue-eyed Caucasian nor the omnipresent eye in a triangle, would at some point can decide to extend his hand out of his window and end my own godliness.

I may not necessarily have to get shattered into pieces or be flushed into the sewers, but definitely, just like the little droplets, I will always find my end.

I hope it rains when it has to happen.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Et cetera

I am back in the big city, again.

After more than a week at the province staying at my mom's place (which seldom happens. Thanks to my reliable internet plug in, I was able to keep my sanity), I am once again back with the hassle of city living. I mean, I love the city life, but I have to be doing things myself again. Although I really don't have problems doing things myself, since I have been doing things myself since I was 15 when I had to leave my parents and live on my own when I went to the University, and eventually getting a job and finally living a bachelor's life, the feel of home and the thought that mom is 'just there' is both an assurance and  a convenience.

It is always nice to be spoiled every once in a while. I never had to do my bed since mom is quick to fix it while I am fixing myself in the shower, and while I am dressing up, breakfast (though I usually wake up early afternoon when at my mom's place) is being served. These are just a few of the conveniences which I have given up when I decided to be on my on my own.Well, I still get those conveniences, except that I have to pay for them monetarily now (talk about the city and capitalism).

Anyway, back to normalcy.

My wound finally healed (after almost a month) and I am ready to be a corporate slave (again). I will be signing my contract this week, and hopefully goes back to the 8-5 routine next week. I am not too excited about it, but I  don't have a choice. I gotta get some funds coming in. =D

I know I also need to decide about my ARV regimen soon. I have been thinking about taking another CD4 test since I was thinking that my previous CD4 count in June must have been at a low 260 because I was on an anti-viral meds for my Zoster, but I realized that if ever there will be changes , it must be just +/- 50, and in any case, is still considered low.

It is also good that J has just gotten back. He can definitely help me make clear decisions. He sent me a message last night saying that he has just gotten back from a two-month vacation. I have to admit that in the past two months, I have been mostly drawing strength and inspiration from J. I have learned to set aside the romantic thoughts, and have settled to maintain a friendly relationship with him, and I am more than fine that it remains that way. Well,  in case it goes beyond that, I will openly entertain it. (**Hopia Baboy, as my friends call it)

So far, things are going well.

I couldn't complain.

Monday, August 23, 2010

On Duty of Disclosure: A Positive's Point of View

Kant' whole ethical philosophy revolves on the whole concept of Duty. The moral act is the act which is done out of our concept of duty, that is Duty as the necessity to act out of respect for the moral laws, regardless of whatever consequences it may bring.

It wouldn't be enough to talk about Kant in one sitting, and as much as I would like to be fair to Kant, the space would only allow me to highlight some of the most important concepts in his Moral Philosophy.

For Kant, the morally important thing is not consequences of our actions but the way we (the agent) think when we make those choices. This is not to say that he has total disregard for consequences only that for him, what determines the morality of an act is/are the principle/s to which it was acted upon.

Kant started his whole philosophy of morals with the concept of a good will. The WILL, according to him is the (only) thing which can be inherently good. It is our power of rational moral choice, and is only present in human beings, which accorded human beings their inherent dignity and humanity the ultimate and unconditional value.

What makes the will good? The will is good when it acts out of duty, not out of inclination. To act out of duty is to act out of respect for the moral law, the moral law which is promulgated by human beings themselves based from their natural capacity to grasp and exercise rationality independent of our inclination or desire of any favorable or good consequences of a possible action.

How do we know the moral law? We use the "Categorical Imperative." The Categorical Imperative is stated as "act only on that maxim (or rules of actions) through which you can at the same time will that it becomes a universal law. Basically it requires the following steps:

1. Before you act, consider the maxim or principle on which you are acting.
2. Generalize that principle.

If, once generalized, it no longer makes any sense because it contradicts itself, then it is wrong to use that maxim as a basis for action.

If the generalized version makes sense, then ask whether you would choose to live in a world where it was followed by everyone. If not, do not act on that maxim.

One good example to illustrate Kant's moral theory is "making false promises."
Maxim: I may make a false promise in order to reap financial gain.
Generalized: Anyone may make a false promise to get something s/he wants.
This is self-contradictory because:
If anyone may make a "false promise," nobody would take a promise seriously; promising becomes meaningless.

Result: I may not act on that maxim.

Another way to articulate Kant's CI is "Always act so as to treat humanity (rational nature) whether in your own person of in the person of another (i.e., other human beings) never simply as a means to an end, but always as an end."

These are just some of the main tenets in Kant's moral theory. Having said these, let us examine the case of "Disclosure."

Scenario: X recently found out that he is HIV positive. Prior to knowing that he is positive, X has engaged in some 'unsafe' sexual practices, and could have possibly infected others. Is X on a duty to disclose to the previous sexual partners he could have possibly infected that he is HIV positive (and ask them to get tested?)

Again, duty is the "necessity" to act out of respect for the moral law. We are put into some concept of duty if and only if we are necessitated to act, out of our concept and respect for the moral law, as promulgated by reason and has satisfied the universality test.

Given the scenario above, we may start formulating our maxim-- I should tell all the previous partners I had of my HIV status so that they can get tested. Let me just emphasize 'should' to underscore the necessity (or the non-necessity) of the action.

Let us now examine the necessity of the action to determine whether we have a duty to do it or not, and eventually if this duty will pass the universality test. We may start with the basic duty of truth telling. We should always at all times tell the truth. That is one principle that can be accepted a universal law without contradiction. However, we may ask, "does not telling or non-disclosure constitute "lying"?"

Withholding some information does not necessarily violate the institution of truth telling. There will be no necessary contradictions with the maxim of truth telling since there will be no truths to be affirmed nor denied when we withhold. But we may still argue that although 'non-disclosure' does not constitute lying and has no contradiction with the principles of truth telling, it may be worthwhile to explore another principle, that is the duty "to save others".

The duty to save others may be properly expressed as "I will save others at all times." This may still be universally expressed as "Everyone will save everybody at all times, provided that he will not use his person or the person of anybody simply as means to an end but an end in itself'.

To illustrate the point, let us take for example the case of a drowning man. If someone is drowning, and I CAN swim, then I am put into a duty to save that man. To NOT save that person will be morally impermissible since we are treating the drowning person's life and humanity with less regard.

On the other hand, if someone is drowning, and I CANNOT swim, then, I am NOT put in any duty to save the drowning person since I will be using "my person" as a means to an end, and that is to save someone else's. This leads me to the point that "Ought" implies "Can". We are only put into some sort of Duty when we CAN.

Given the illustration, we can finally express the duty of "saving others" as "We will save others as much as we CAN, at all times."

Relating this to the previous point of disclosure, we may try and express the maxim as such "I will tell people truths that I know to save others as much as I can." Or to be more specific, "I will tell my previous sexual partners who I could have possibly infected as much as I CAN so that they can have themselves tested and stop the spread of infection".

Let us now examine that maxim.

First, are we violating any principles in the application of that maxim? It seems plausible to tell previous sexual partners about our serostatus. We can surely and easily tell our previous sexual partners that we have recently been diagnosed HIV positive, but we have to ask, is it necessary to do so? Moreso, are we using any person as a means to achieve our end, and that is to save our previous sexual partners, and their future sexual partner by having tested, and hopefully practice 'safer' sex in the future?

Although I CAN by principle tell my previous sexual partners about my serostatus, it is important to consider if I will be using my own person by doing that. I may put my own person and my own agency into jeopardy by disclosure. Although my intention by telling other previous sexual partners is to save them by making them know, so that they can also possibly save others they may have possibly infected, and so on ad infinitum, so as to stop the spread of the infection, I am putting myself and my agency into some danger, therefore making myself merely as a means to some end, and that is to stop the future infection.

It may be argued, however, that we may be ‘endangering’ others’ lives, thus making them mere means instead of an end in itself should we not disclose. We may put them into some serious health risk should we not tell them. Still, we are also putting others they will have unsafe sexual contacts into possible risk of infection.

I understand that it is important to stop future infection. At the same time, I understand that knowledge of one's serostatus is a good start to realizing that end. However, I also need to consider in this case the possibility of my agency being undermined should I go for that possibility. How can I be certain that by telling my previous sexual partners of my serostatus, I am guaranteeing that they will only act in such a way that they will only be engaging in safer sexual practices? I still remain hopeful, though.

So does this put me in a "duty to disclose?"

I will go back to my previous example of a drowning man. Although this may sound like an extreme example, it might be worth to try and see the parallelism. If we are all in the same boat, and we all do not know how to swim, it is no question that I do not have duty whatsoever to save others in the boat. To try and save others is not the prudent thing to do as I will be undermining my person, thus endangering my agency of the possibility to 'save others' in ways I can. Say if I die in my attempt to save another drowning person, I won’t be able to try and save an old lady crossing the street, or an impoverished kid who do not have something to eat. The point is, there are ways where 'saving others' can be fulfilled, and that is saving others in the way I can without possibly endangering my agency and my capacity to save others.

Applying the parallelism to the case of (non)disclosure, by disclosing my serostatus to previous sexual partners, I may be jeopardizing myself of the possible 'normal' life. Others may find out. To say the worst, I may suffer stigma and incarceration thereby making me unable to function 'normally', thus undermining my further duty of fighting (and possibly stopping) the spread of infection. That may sound an exaggeration, but remains a possibility.

Still following the parallelism, should I NOT disclose the information, I can still fulfill the ends of trying to fight the spread of infection (in the ways I CAN). I CAN definitely engage in safer sexual practices, which is one way. I can also go and start educating people about HIV/AIDS. And these acts, although directed towards the same end, that is to stop the spread of infection, does not necessarily endanger my person and my agency, thus, not violating the principle of Universality as discussed.

I recognize that everyone has the responsibility and is in a duty to fight the spread of HIV/AIDS. This is not questionable. This is something that can be accepted as a Universal law. It should be added however that "fighting in a way we CAN without endangering your person or the person of another" simply to achieve this end.

This responsibility and duty is also not retroactive. When I still didn’t know how to swim, I didn't have the duty to save anyone in a drowning boat. I cannot be faulted for not having been able to save anybody. But say I finally learn to swim, and the same drowning boat incident happen, I cannot escape my duty to save others. To NOT save anybody would be morally impermissible.

The same is the case of knowing my serostatus. I cannot be faulted for not being able to save those who I could have possibly infected "when I still didn't know." Disclosing my serostatus, although may not change the fact that I may or may have infected them, may possibly have them know their own status and could help a lot in stopping the spread of the virus. At the same time, I still cannot guarantee that by disclosure, I am completely not using my person as a means to achieving the end, that is to stop the spread of infection. It can, but the odds that I may be are still very apparent, though.

However, I am not sparing myself of the duty and my responsibility to stop the spread of the Virus. Now that I know my serostatus, to endanger other people by doing the same irresponsible act of unsafe sexual practices would be equally morally impermissible.

Finally, I can no longer save those who have drowned. But I CAN save (some of) those who will. And this is what I will do.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

(Ethical) Issues on Disclosure

Maybe I am over-thinking it. Maybe I am also just too engrossed with the philosophical concept of justice and responsibility.

When I found out about my HIV status, some friends who I told I am positive suggested that I tell the previous contacts (who I could have possibly infected when I still didn't know my status) to get tested. They even told me to get a dummy SIM card and send those people anonymous messages. I decided NOT, and I remain with my position.

Today, a friend has met a pozzie online, and he volunteered to be the 'third' party to tell the HIV pozzie's (lets call him R****) previous contact  (lets call him A****) to get tested. Again, I may be wrong, but I remain.

(Friend): As a third party, protecting R****'s anonymity, I contacted A**** with R****'s message for him to get tested
(ME): Uhuh
(Friend): And R****'s message was very non-judgmental, no guilt no 'kawawa' drama
(Friend): A**** ignored my message - this morning A**** thought he was chatting with a new guy in Taguig and invited him over for sex - but he was actually chatting with R**** who wanted to get his CP for the health department.
(ME): R**** shouldn't be giving A****'s number no matter how good is the intention
(ME): I do not agree with what he's (A****'s) doing
(Friend): Then you are lucky to live in the Philippines
(Friend): (Smiley)
(ME): I respect A****'s, or anyone else's privacy, and at the same time, I give the responsibility to him to check on his health
(ME): R**** may be concerned, but doesn't have the right to disclose to anyone, not even the health department what "could" be A****'s (possible) status
(Friend): I told R**** that in the states, the Health Dept has full time employees who spend their entire career tracing spreaders of HIV.
(ME): He could get into trouble.
(Friend): Are you telling me that the health department here does not ask for the names of who you've had sex with?
(ME): No, they don't and they can't.
(ME): I mean theres a law against explicitly disclosing someone else's (possible) status
(Friend): It's a mandatory question in the states
(ME): Not here
(ME): Which is good i guess
(ME): I mean, you are putting someone else's privacy into jeopardy
(Friend): Life is more important than privacy
(ME): Privacy could mean 'a certain quality of life'
(ME): Its not just 'life' we have to consider, but the quality of life

(Friend): If Guy A is tested, and his test is positive, then Guy A commits a crime every time he has unprotected sex in the future
(ME): That's up to guy A and his partner
(ME): A responsible partner wouldn't have unprotected sex
(ME): So its not just guy A, but a consent from guy B
(ME): No crime is committed.

(Friend): Right now in Germany a female rock star is on trial for knowing she had HIV and giving it to 3 different male partners
(ME): Yes, that's true.
(ME): If you know that you are positive and you deliberately act so as to infect someone, that could be ASSAULT
(Friend): Under German law, she is required to notify the partner of her HIV status
(Friend): In the states, attempted murder
(ME): Yes, you are required to tell, if you know that you will be infecting the partner
(ME): That is, by 'deliberately' not protecting
(ME): But if it's not putting the partner into grave danger, say you've taken protection, then that's not assault
(Friend): A**** apparently likes to fuck younger men without condoms
(ME): A responsible HIV positive wouldn't wanna get fucked without condoms
(ME): No matter how the partner wants it
(ME): Now if the partner insists fucking a positive guy without rubber after the positive person refuses, no assault there
(Friend): Are you going to go to law school?
(ME): I hope I am. Why? (Smiley)
(Friend): (Smiley)
(ME): Hehehe
(ME): One doesn't have to be in the law school to make sense of some principles and postulates
(Friend): Because you are arguing how many lawyers can dance on the head of a pin
(ME): (Wink)

(Friend): My postulate is this: 1. If someone says you have a 50/50 chance of being the guy who infected him with HIV, then you have two obligations 1. to be tested and 2. No matter what the result, negative or positive, you must use condoms on all future acts of penetration.
(ME): I take number 2
(ME): That's the responsible choice

(Friend): Did you notice in his (A****) profile, the number of young men he has his arm around?
(Friend): He has a moral obligation to others to be tested
(ME): Should we judge him as to how many men he has?
(ME): What he should do is to protect himself
(ME): And the partners
(ME): Say he gets tested, and he tested positive
(ME): What do we do then? Shall we stop him for f**king others?
(Friend): And to hell with the past ?
(ME): What about the past?

(Friend): You should never work in infectious disease control
(ME): If you ask me, am I responsible for the guys I could have possibly infected when I didn't know I have IT, I'd say "NO!"
(ME): I am responsible for my future contacts
(ME): Not with the past. Things happened because of our choices
(ME): There were times I wasn't responsible that's why I had it
(ME): But at the same time, I didn't tell the former partners to be not responsible
(ME): As far as I know, at the point of contact, I was safe and I wanna take the risk by doing it 'unsafe' with them
(Friend): You need to read And The Band Played On
(ME): So I cannot be held responsible for them in the same way that they shouldn't be responsible for me
(ME): If there are people I am responsible to, that's the future partners am gonna do it with
(ME): I have to make sure i do it safely so as not to endanger them
(Friend): I can see this debate is not going anywhere
(Friend): You need to read And The Band Played On
(ME): Hmmm!
(ME): My only point is that you cannot be responsible from that which you didn't WILL.

(Friend): I don't see it as a philosophical argument - I see it as a public health issue, and the health of the public body is more important than the rights of the individual
(ME): Don't you think the public needs to protect themselves among anyone or anybody else?
(ME): Would a responsible public engage in unsafe sex?
(Friend): You're making it a philosophical question
(ME): Would you like some authority to impose on its people how they should be doing things, including that personal act of having sex?
(ME): They can only influence and advocate
(Friend): A disease that kills is NOT a philosophical question
(ME): In the end, the individual is responsible for himself
(Friend): Oh Jesus I give up!
(ME): I am sorry. I couldn't just accept it.

(ME): Would you like me to jeopardize my own privacy
(ME): Or if for example it is you,  your privacy jeopardized? Would you like it?
(ME): Try putting yourself in the position of all the positive
(Friend): Whatever, bye
(ME): I am sorry.

This is the actual transcipt, except that some spellings have been auto corrected. The names were also changed for privacy's sake.

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