Saturday, February 27, 2010

Skype[d] my Worries Away

I have just finished a Skype session with one, if not the closest friend I have.

I have known L since 1999. We were best bud in college. I haven't seen her for a while now. She is currently based in Norway finishing her Phd and haven't seen her since January 2009. We remained in touch despite the physical separation though.

L is the crybaby, while I am the 'tough' guy in the group. L cries a lot, but I know she is strong. I've seen her gone through some painful moments in the past, including a death of a very special friend, but she managed to stand up and remain. I know she can handle tough times. I may see her cry again, but I am assured she can manage. And so I decided to be weak in her presence.

I have managed to at least be 'more normal' than my previous state and is now able to think level headed (or at least I would like to think.) The typical 'tough' guy that I was decided to L about my current reality, with the disclaimer that its as if our conversation never happened soon as we finished. Although I am confident that she wouldn't even dare tell anybody about it, I just had to tell her that to assure that I am not incriminating myself. She agreed on the condition.

I slowly typed into the message tab of Skype: "I am HIV positive."' I don't know why I couldn't say it verbally and needed to write it instead. That could be the part of me still in denial despite the countless conditioning that I have already accepted that fact. Anyway, i tried to keep my message plain and flat, devoid of any emotions.

I looked at her in the webcam soon as i pressed the 'enter' key on my laptop. She looked calm. Not the typical L I know. I have seen her freak out before (in public) upon reading a note sent to her by a friend. I was pleased by what I saw.

She then started to assure me that everything is gonna be fine, that nothing is going to change, and that she will always be there. I tried to compose myself and look as if everything is OK. I was at the same time holding my tears. I am the 'tough' guy, afterall.

We ended the conversation with best wishes and a few reminders. Then my tears fell soon as I hit the 'close window' icon.

Suddenly, all  my hesitations and worries for the moment were gone. I am appeased.

Stats, Everyone

A few months ago, I have only been watching the news about the rapid increase of HIV cases in the Philippines. Now, I one in the statistics. I am officially one of the 4,424 reported HIV cases since 1984, of which 832 had developed into full-blown AIDS and 314 deaths had been reported.

I still cannot accept it.  Although I have already considered myself "assumed-positive" when my random test came out "indeterminate" last November and has gone practicing an assumed-positive life-- that is, living health(ier), safer sex and all, and has been successful in it , it is only now that reality starts to bite. And it proves harder than it seems.

I am not ready yet.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Dizzizit, Ubermensch!

I always felt like I am Superman. I always have to win my 'battles'.

But unlike Clark Kent, I never had to wear a cape to hide his fragility and transform into the indestructible Superhero. I win my battles as I  am. That was until I found my kryptonite.

Today, I'll have to wear my cape for yet to be the biggest battle!

My flight and my fight begins here. Let me tell you my story.

I am 27, gay, and I am HIV Positive.

I had my HIV random test on November 28, 2009. It was the usual 'fun' night and I was out with my friends when everyone decided to take advantage of the free HIV test administered in Malate. Although I've always been tested every 3-6 months,my last one being in July 2009 where I tested Negative, I decided to have myself tested as well.

The random test was quick. Results are given after 15 minutes upon taking a sample blood. It was painless, too, though the thought of needles always freak me out.

All of my friends tested Negative (thanks to High Heavens!) that night. My boyfriend was tested Positive, though initially he told us that he was Negative (presumably, so as not to spoil the night and not to create any scene. Besides, nobody needs to know anyway.) I tested Indeterminate, but did not tell anybody, as well. I lived with their impression that I was Negative as everyone else is in my circle. I was also not convinced I will turn less than Negative that time.

And so the night resumed.

Soon as we got home, I talked to my boyfriend and told him the real score-- that I was tested Indeterminate, and asked him his 'real' result. Then he told he was tested Positive. The last time he was tested, he said, was 2006-2007, and he had a feeling that he will turn Positive that night.

I was caught dumbfounded.

My Boyfriend and I have been together for more than a year now, and I am very happy with how things are going between us. I won't say our relationship is all too perfect, but it was good to say the least. We always manage to get by.

That night felt so long and very exhausting.

We decided to get a confirmatory test the next day. Though I would like to think I am confident that I know HIV, anxiety and fear surrounded me when we had to head to PGH to have our confirmatory test. It just felt bizarre that I know I know and I understand enough about HIV, yet I had to be in this situation.

I would admit I have had sexual intercourse with several partners, but as far as I know I have taken precaution most of the time, and that I was fully convinced I have less chances of acquiring the virus. I still acknowledge, though, that there is always that probability that I may have contracted it as there were times when I left myself susceptible, specially when I've done it with my Boyfriend. Love has gotten some of me vulnerable, I guess.

Moving forward. We were advised that result of the confirmatory test will come in 3-4 weeks. I have decided to get some vacation to get the thing out of my mind and somehow pacify myself. However, the wait proved to be longer than advised so we decided to just suspend the appointment with the doctors for the result after the Holidays. We all wanted to end and start the new year with good and happy thoughts.

And so the Holidays were over. My Boyfriend and I planned to get the result of the test together. However, due to my schedule, he had to get his ahead. He got his result the third week of January 2010, and he was confirmed Positive. He went into some days of mild depression and tad of paranoia after getting his result, while I, though heartbreaking as it was, had to remain calm.

I also started psyching myself of My possible result. I considered myself 'assumed-positive' and had to live with that thought for a while. I have to admit, though, that there was a big hope that I'd still come out Negative.

Yesterday, I finally decided to end the agony of waiting. I went to PGH to get my result. I have to say I felt most scared that day than any day in my life. I may have prep myself that I could be positive, but my natural inclination to denial is there, presenting me with fear I never felt before. But I had to brave it.

After a short briefing, the doctor gave me the envelope. I am HIV reactive. I am HIV positive.

I never cried. But  my heart was bleeding.

Since getting the result, I am still trying to have things sink in. I know I understand what it means to be HIV positive. I know it is not a death sentence. But at the same time, I know it is NOT YET easy to live with it.

And so I'll be Superman. I'll be the Ubermensch-- that which overcome the man that is my 'self'.

Links to Ubermensch