Yes, I'm gay. I probably was since the day I was born. On my 21st birthday, I sort of had my debut. I came out to my parents. A little drama from mom, and some indifference from dad. An above-average coming out. Almost perfect.

Nine years later, two weeks before my 30th birthday, I found out... I'M HIV POSITIVE.

And so my story begins... I'm BACK IN THE CLOSET.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Mission: Impossible

secret agentThe afternoon was the highlight of my day. Technically my first visit to the HIV ward of San Lazaro Hospital. The H4 ward. For those not familiar, this is where those with HIV and AIDS are confined. Honestly, it’s a dingy, gloomy old building, and I think it’s a shame it hasn’t gotten spruced up to at least give the patients a more lively and happy environment to live in. I can imagine it’s not hard to feel depression there… something that they say you should veer away from when you have HIV.

I was referred to one particular doctor. She wasn’t available when I got there, so I had to wait for about half an hour before seeing her. The wait was agonizing. Apparently, that ward is notorious. You don’t go there for just any reason. Either you’re a doctor or some medical personnel, a relative, or most probably, you have HIV. I was seated by the door to the ward along with a couple of patients confined there, and I felt like a spotlight was aimed at me, waiting for them to ask me, “Are you one of us?”

Finally, the doctor came around, and she was expecting me. We stepped into her cubicle, and the briefing began. She discussed all the facts about HIV and AIDS. Stuff that I had learned in school. And I realize, education and awareness just doesn’t cut it. I’m living proof.

I know she felt some pity for me. Pity because I was young. Pity because I had gotten tested on a whim, and not because I was feeling something bad. Pity because I was turning 30 tomorrow. Pity because I was alone.

I tried to keep a light attitude the whole time. I only almost got teary-eyed when she was trying to convince me that my family should know. She just made me feel lonely, that’s all. I said it would happen eventually, but that now is not the right time.

And then came my baptism. I was christened with my patient number. To preserve the anonymity of patients, especially when it came to records and laboratory tests, people on their HIV registry are assigned patient numbers. I am H4-2008-054. Let’s break it down. H4 is the ward identification, 2008 stands for the year that I was diagnosed, and 054 means I’m the 54th on the registry for this year. Fifty-four?! Wow! And I thought I was all alone…

I was given my lab referrals as well, and I plan on going to get them done tomorrow. Oh, boy, another date with the needles. What a happy birthday it’s gonna be…

On a positive note, I feel like a secret agent… on one hell of a mission. Agent H4-2008-054… I’m Poz… Pinoy Poz.

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