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.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Testing... Testing...

negative or positive?I had read online about some free HIV testing in the Manila area for the month of March, and decided to take advantage. It was March 31st, and I didn't want to let the chance pass. I had taken the day off from work to trek down to the Social Hygiene Clinic of the Manila Health Office in the San Lazaro vicinity in Manila. Not exactly convenient for someone who lives in Quezon City, but I made the effort.

Ok, I'll admit it. I had scouted the place out the Friday prior to that day. Ok, ok, maybe not “scouted”. More like I was too chicken to go in and get it done. Hahaha. So by the time the 31st came around, I was a bit familiar with the area, which gave me less reason not to go. Not to mention I had mustered up a bit more guts to actually step into the building. Always a good thing.

I followed all the instructions in the forum post. Across San Lazaro Hospital. Yep, it was there, the Manila Health Office. Side entrance. A bit creepy to be honest. Second floor. It reminded me of some old public school building, which isn’t exactly bad. Look for Dr. Malou. Found her.

Dra. Malou Tan. She was nice and cordial, and just asked me a few questions before a very short briefing on the test. Another guy had come in a few minutes later, also to get tested, so she asked me if I could wait so we’d go to the lab together. No problemo. She talked to the other guy while I waited out in the hall. I even remember wondering why his briefing lasted much longer than mine. Probably he was higher risk. Shrug.

So after their talk, she took us down to the lab where the blood extraction was to take place. Big, big issue for me. I’ll tell you all about my fear of needles later. So anyways, I went first. I sat down, closed my eyes and braced myself. “I’m ready!”, I thought to myself. And even before I could bite my lip and think “Stick it! Stick it!”, the nurse said “Ipit…”, to tell me to press the cotton against my skin. It’s over? Geesh… I wasn’t even done with my prayer. One big “Whew!” from me.

From there, the doctor gave me her number and told me to check back with her the following week for the release of the results. I headed home, triumphant, having conquered my fear. Believe me, I had graduation music playing in my head. Not for long.

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