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.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Loophole

Light at the End of the TunnelI recently encountered another new poz friend. Having lots to share about our new lives, with me just being the least bit further along, he told me he’d be reporting to the Philippine General Hospital, PGH for short, for his HIV support and treatment. “PGH?” I thought to myself. Even being almost six months into my journey, I never even knew that PGH was one of the treatment centers for HIV. Only the RITM and San Lazaro were familiar to me. It reminded me how much there was left to learn... and all the more for those who are just starting their HIV journey.

So finally, I figured it out. I found a way to give the vital information, without needing to succumb to the threats of the paranoid few who do not wish for me to associate their doctors or treatment centers with HIV and AIDS. Here goes...

In 1994, the Philippines’ Department of Health, or DOH established the National AIDS STI Prevention and Control Program, or NASPCP. The NASPCP is under the Infectious Disease Office of the National Center for Disease Prevention and Control, or NCDPC.

In 1995, the DOH, through the Hospital Management Office and the NASPCP enacted guidelines on the creation of HIV-AIDS Core Teams, or HACTs as the focal point for all HIV related services in the hospital setting, including HIV counseling and testing, treatment of opportunistic infections, universal precautions and infection controls, psychosocial support to people living with HIV and AIDS and clinical management of AIDS through provision of anti-retroviral drugs or ARVs.

What follows is a list of main HIV Treatment Hubs of the NASPCP, as of present, including locations, as well as some contact numbers and contact persons, for your information and needs. I hope this helps.


San Lazaro Hospital (SLH), Quiricada St., Sta. Cruz, Manila
Dr. Rosario Jessica Tactacan-Abrenica, Medical Specialist II / HACT Leader and Head, HIV/AIDS Pavilion
Tel: (+632) 309-9528 to 29; 740-8301 loc 6000

Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), Filinvest Corporate City, Alabang, Muntinlupa City
Dr. Rossana A. Ditangco, Head, HIV Research Unit
Tel: (+632) 526-1705; 807-2628 or 38 local 801/208

Philippine General Hospital (PGH), Taft Avenue, Ermita, Manila
Dr. Jodor Lim & Ms. Dominga C. Gomez, HACT, SAGIP / PGH
Telefax: (+632) 554-8400 loc 3238


Ilocos Training and Regional Medical Center (ITRMC), San Fernando, La Union
Dr. Jeisela B. Gaerlan, Medical Specialist II / HACT Leader
Tel: (+6372) 700-3808

Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center (BGHMC), Baguio City
Dr. Maria Lorena L. Santos, HACT Leader / Medical Officer II

Cagayan Valley Medical Center, Tuguegarao City, Cagayan Valley

Jose B. Lingad Memorial Medical Center, San Fernando, Pampanga

Bicol Regional Training & Teaching Hospital, Legaspi City, Albay
Dr. Rogelio G. Rivera, Chief of Hospital III
Tel: (+6352) 483-0016; 483-0086; 483-0017


Corazon Locsin Montelibano Memorial Regional Hospital, Lacson St., Bacolod City, Negros Occidental
Dr. Candido Alam, HACT Leader / Medical Specialist
Tel: (+6334) 435-1591; 433-2697

Vicente Sotto, Sr. Memorial Medical Center, B. Rodriguez St., Cebu City 6000
Dr. Maria Consuelo B. Malaga, HACT Leader
Tel: (+6332) 253-7564

Western Visayas Medical Center, Q. Abeto St., Mandurriao, 5000 Iloilo City
Dr. Ray Celis, HACT Leader / Medical Specialist III
Tel: (+6333) 321-2841 to 50


Zamboanga City Medical Center, Evangelista St., 7000 Zamboanga City
Dr. Jejunee Rivera, HACT Leader / Medical Officer III
Tel: (+6362) 991-0573

Davao Medical Center, J.P. Laurel St., Bajada, 8000 Davao City
Dr. Alicia Layug, HACT Leader
Tel: (+6381) 227-2731

Or visit/inquire at:

Nearest Social Hygiene Clinics (Special STI Clinics) and City or Municipal Health Offices at the local level

Visit for more information.

With my mission accomplished and conscience clear, go ahead, cast your stones.


Saturday, September 27, 2008

Heading Home

HomeAnother week has passed. A seemingly regular week despite the visit to RITM last Tuesday. And, I’m doing fine with my new ARV medication. I can also say finally that I’ve gotten over the dizziness of Efavirenz. Excellent. I’ve always wanted to be able to say I’ve been able to settle into my final and for-life ARV meds, so I can write it off as a daily habit and try to get into new activities. But since it’s taken longer than I thought, I’m just maintaining what I already have, which are family, work and life as I know it, and giving my doctors and meds the time they need to figure me out.

Yesterday, I dropped by the Social Hygiene Clinic again first thing in the morning, primarily to get my second Penicillin shot for my Syphilis. I got there early, but Dra. Diana Mendoza was already there. She was attending to another guy down at the lab though, so I waited patiently upstairs.

I’ve seen for the past couple of visits there, they they’ve been busier than ever at the SHC. That early, there were other people waiting with me, when before I practically had them all to myself. Oh, no, I wasn’t jealous.

I had known and seen previously, that UNICEF had infused additional supplies and support into the SHC, in terms of HIV Rapid Test Kits, HIV Serodia Screening Kits, and other medications for Sexually Transmitted Infections. Now this is advocacy. Apparently, HIV testing has been made a standard option even for the pregnant women who get check-ups at the Manila Health Department. And why not? We must remember that HIV is not a homosexual disease. It was great to see they’re able to test more people, which should help our cause.

When Dra. Diana came up, she even had one guy with her, apparently, newly diagnosed with HIV. She invited me into the clinic, and introduced us to each other, and mentioned she’d be referring and personally taking him to the H4 Ward in San Lazaro later that day. Isn’t she the best?

She mentioned I’d been diagnosed there too, but transferred to the RITM. She was about to try to explain why I transferred from San Lazaro, but I cut her off, smiling and said “oh, never mind, never mind…” I just thought we’d spare this kid the unnecessary complications for now.

She then asked if she could just have breakfast before attending to me. Of course! She invited the other guy into her office, too, as I’d decline having already had breakfast before leaving the house that morning. I heard her telling the guy my story, my diagnosis, my constant visits there, and my journey through ARVs. I’m sure I’m a pretty good example to show this kid that life goes on, in spite of HIV.

Really having her hands full so early in the morning, without Dra. Malou there, she mixed my medications, and attended quickly to a couple of pregnant women out in the corridor, before telling me to go on into the clinic area of her room. So, bang! I got my shot, and she told me she wouldn’t hold me much longer, knowing I would be trekking to work from there, and having to go back to her new bunso or baby in her office.

It’s just really, really great have some reasons to see and visit them there. I haven’t really had time to witness or attend the support groups that hold session there, or help out in any way, but still, their warmth keeps me coming back.

So let me just put the word out again. They’re still conducting free HIV testing at the Social Hygiene Clinic of the Manila Health Department. They’re located along Quiricada Street in Manila, which is between the Bambang and Tayuman Stations of the LRT. Their building is right across the main gate of San Lazaro Hospital. For more information, you can call Dra. Malou Tan at (+632) 711-6942.

Oh and you might really want to call before you go there, just to make sure they’re not out doing field work. I’ve needed to shift my next supposedly Friday-shot-day to Thursday, because they’ll be out doing voluntary testing on members of the Philippine Coast Guard on Friday. Yeah, they’ve been that busy lately.

But they’re great. Going there has always felt like heading back home.


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Bye to Zido

ZidovudineIUPAC name 1-4-azido-5-hydroxymethyl tetrahydrofuran-2-yl-5-methylpyrimidine-2,4-dione. Formula C10H13N5O4. Zidovudine or azidothymidine (AZT), also called ZDV is a nucleoside analog reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NRTI), a type of antiretroviral drug. It was the first approved for treatment of HIV. It is also sold under the names Retrovir and Retrovis, and as an ingredient in Combivir, Epzicom and Trizivir.

Zidovudine was the first drug approved for the treatment of AIDS and HIV infection. Jerome Horwitz of Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute and Wayne State University School of Medicine first synthesized AZT in 1964, under a US National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant. AZT was originally intended to treat cancer, but was shelved after it proved ineffective in treating cancer in mice.

In February 1985, Samuel Broder, Hiroaki Mitsuya, and Robert Yarchoan, three scientists in the National Cancer Institute (NCI), collaborating with Janet Rideout and several other scientists at Burroughs Wellcome (now GlaxoSmithKline), started working on it as an AIDS drug. After showing that this drug was an effective agent against HIV in vitro, the NCI team conducted the initial phase 1 clinical trial that provided evidence that it could increase CD4 counts in AIDS patients.

Modern treatment regimens typically use lower dosages (e.g. 300 mg) two times a day. As of 1996, AZT, like other antiretroviral drugs, is almost always used as part of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART). That is, it is combined with other drugs in order to prevent mutation of HIV into an AZT-resistant form.

Common side effects of AZT include nausea, headache, changes in body fat, and discoloration of fingernails and toenails. More severe side effects include anemia and bone marrow suppression, which can be overcome using erythropoietin or darbepoetin treatments. These unwanted side effects might be caused by the sensitivity of the alpha-DNA polymerase in the cell mitochondria. AZT has been shown to work additively or synergistically with many anti-HIV agents; however, acyclovir and ribavirin decrease the antiviral effect of AZT. Drugs that inhibit hepatic glucuronidation, such as indomethacin, acetylsalicylic acid (Aspirin) and trimethoprim, decrease the elimination rate and increase the toxicity.

AZT does not destroy the HIV infection, but only delays the progression of the disease and the replication of virus, even at very high doses. During prolonged AZT treatment HIV has the ability to gain an increased resistance to AZT by mutation of the reverse transcriptase. A study showed that AZT could not impede the resumption of virus production, and eventually cells treated with AZT produced viruses as much as the untreated cells. So as to slow the development of resistance, it is generally recommended that AZT be given in combination with another reverse transcriptase inhibitor and an antiretroviral from another group, such as a protease inhibitor or a non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor.

I had been on my first month on the Lamivudine+Zidovudine combination, so I had been scheduled by the doctor yesterday for a complete blood count. I took the afternoon off from work, and trekked to the RITM, getting there at exactly 2:00 pm. I was sent straight to the lab to have my blood extracted, so the results would be available the same time the doctor was ready to meet me. I never realized it took as little as less than 30 minutes to complete a CBC lab test. Technology rocks.

After hanging out a couple of hours with the other clients there, even having an afternoon snack with the regular counselor, the results were finally realeased and the doctor had finished all the other clients before me. I was a bit surprised by the verdict, another change in medication. The doctor and Ate discussed a bit and agreed they were to make the change. Apparently, my Hemoglobin count had dropped from 140+ units to 100+ units, a side effect of Zidovudine. Ate even pointed out that my lips were a bit pale, something I never noticed myself. The doctor looked under my lower eyelid, and said it still wasn't too noticeable. But yes, they'd shift me over to another medication.

I hadn't brought what was left of my Lamu+Zido meds, so I promised I'd bring it on my next visit. I was given in place of it, solo Lamivudine tablets, plus the new one, Tenofovir, under the brand name Viread. It all seemed like a great move, as the doctor pointed out I'd just have to drink all three of my medications once a day in the evening. One tablet of Efavirenz, two tiny tablets of Lamivudine, and one teardrop-shaped tablet of Tenofovir. Not too bad. When I asked if I'd need to watch out for any side effects, the doctor said there are none. Even better.

So last night, I started my new nightly habit. The doctor advised me to comeback after about three months for another CBC, just to make sure my Hemoglobin has bounced back, but no other problems should be encountered. Hopefully, things will be all good.

Goodbye, Zidovudine.


Tuesday, September 23, 2008


disgustedI’d been invited to attend a seminar last week, hosted by one of the HIV-advocacy-slash-support groups. I was told it would start last Thursday, and deal with ARV handling for the HIV positive as myself.

In as much as I had wanted to spend time with others like me living with HIV, and learn more essentials on ARV handling, which could not have come at a more proper time, I declined, pointing out that I had been on leave almost the whole of the previous week due to the allergic reactions to Nevirapine, and needed to catch up on work. My loss… supposedly.

Aside from that, I had my doubts from the get-go, wondering why it would need to last between three and five days, and why it was to be held in a resort out of town. My instincts could not have been more accurate.

I had heard feedback from one guy who had attended the event. Hearing words like “kissing”, “walk-out” and “petting” to describe the goings-on was shocking enough. I don’t mean to play goodie-two-shoes, or claim to be a virgin or an angel, especially since I’ve been so vocal about having been tempted to get flirty around the HIV ward at San Lazaro. But I couldn’t understand how this could become a venue for such actions. It baffled me why they needed to hide things behind the guise of a “seminar”, and why they didn’t just advertise it as a flirtfest to begin with. And what other things beyond flirting that may have happened, only God knows. Maybe they should’ve just held it in some bath house or motel to make things easier.

Even more shocking, was hearing the words “drinking”, “drunk”, and “puking” to describe other events in the evenings of the so-called seminar. Call me killjoy, but I distinctly remember every doctor’s reminders to HIV-positive little me to stay away from vices such as smoking, drugs and drinking. So are these so-called advocacy groups fostering venues for temptations and peer pressures that people like me should especially be staying away from?

I acknowledge that the organizers cannot control the actions of every individual there, but I believe they could’ve held the “seminar” in a more proper venue, and confined it to more decent hours to avoid such happenings.

Fine, maybe the participants did learn a lot about handling ARVs, but isn't this like taking one step forward and two steps back?

Needless to say, I don’t regret not being able to attend the seminar.

Advocacy is defined as “Pushing forth a cause or creating a defense to protect the beliefs of self or others”. It’s just sad to realize that this could be the kind of “advocacy” that these so-called advocacy groups are pushing, when they should be steering people like me onto the right path.

These are the times that drive me back into my closet. Whatever ARV information I’ll need, I’ll just get from my doctor.


Monday, September 22, 2008

In My Head

In My HeadWhat’s been running through my head lately? Efavirenz. And I’m not exaggerating. This is my third week on Efavirenz, and it’s been trying to drive me crazy.

When the doctor changed my medication from Nevirapine to Efavirenz at the RITM two weeks ago, she had warned me about the side effects. Among these, were dizziness and dreams. I was thinking anything would be better than the fever and rashes I was experiencing with Nevirapine.

So I started on Efavirenz, just once a day, taking the doctor’s advice to take it in the evening, making sure I’d have nothing important to do after taking it. I never experienced any of the dreaming, but man, she wasn’t kidding about the dizziness.

I’ve been trying to come up with some way to accurately describe the feeling, and I’ve actually come up with a number of them.

First thing that came to mind, was that it felt like I was seeing the world through someone else’s prescription lenses. It was like being drunk, but not tipsy. My mind was all a blur.

It wasn’t exactly impairing me. Rather it was even making me move faster. More efficient maybe? I’ve noticed I’ve been able to go through my morning routine faster, making me arrive at work earlier. I even walk faster. I don’t know if it’s giving me more energy or something, but the world seemed to slow down relatively. Crazy, huh?

A friend of mine may have caught a good description, saying it must feel like being on a third straight cup of coffee. I couldn’t really tell, not being a coffee drinker, but maybe, it made some sense.

I also described it as feeling like everything I do, everything I hear, everything I think, everything I see, just echoes in my head twenty times before setting in. It felt chaotic.

So that’s how I’ve been feeling for the past two weeks. Admittedly, I seem to be getting the hang of it. At this point, it’s no longer as bad as the first few days. Things in my head are clearer now, and I feel I’m getting back to my old self again. U and C did say it’d be this way, and that I should be dizziness-free anywhere between a week and a month.

So all in all, I’m pretty happy about the Efavirenz. I haven’t been having to think about it much, and have even had to worry more about my Hepatitis B and Syphilis. Well, not really.

I’ve visited the doctors at Social Hygiene Clinic again to start another round of penicillin shots for my Syphilis. As for the Hepa, the lab tests show I’m an active carrier, and the result of the latest lab test for the Hepa Viral Load hasn’t come out yet. The doctor says it’s nothing to worry about, because one of my HIV medications, Lamivudine, is actually also a medication for Hepatitis B. So we’re actually hitting two birds with one stone here.

The fortunate thing is that I haven’t had any manifestations of either of what a doctor friend of mine regards as my HIV “add-ons”. I’ve always said, having HIV is one thing, but adding Hepatitis B and Syphilis isn’t anything to be proud of. Although, it’s still far from the end of the world.

So for now, they’re just a few things more to deal with, aside from work, family and love. Just another part of the macro scale of life. No biggie.

How about you? What’s been running through your head lately?


Tuesday, September 16, 2008


NevirapineIUPAC name 11-cyclopropyl-4-methyl-5,11-dihydro-6H-dipyrido 1,4diazepin-6-one. Formula C15H14N4O. Nevirapine, also marketed under the trade name Viramune by Boehringer Ingelheim, is a non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NNRTI) used to treat HIV-1 infection and AIDS.

As with other antiretroviral drugs, HIV rapidly develops resistance if nevirapine is used alone, so recommended therapy consists of combinations of three or more antiretrovirals.

Nevirapine in triple combination therapy has been shown to suppress viral load effectively when used as initial antiretroviral therapy. Some clinical trials have demonstrated comparable HIV suppression with nevirapine-based regimens to that achieved with protease inhibitors or efavirenz. Although concerns have been raised about nevirapine-based regimens in those starting therapy with high viral load or low CD4 count, some analyses suggest that nevirapine may be effective in these patients.

Nevirapine may also form a useful component of salvage regimens after virological failure, usually in combination with one or more PIs as well as nRTIs, especially in those who have not previously taken an NNRTI.

The most common adverse effect of nevirapine is the development of mild or moderate rash, observed in 13% of patients. Severe or life-threatening skin reactions have been observed in 1.5% of patients, including Stevens-Johnson syndrome, toxic epidermal necrolysis and hypersensitivity. Nevirapine may cause severe or life-threatening liver toxicity, usually emerging in the first six weeks of treatment. All prior information have been sourced from Wikipedia.

At the RITM, I was initially put on a once-a-day dosage of Nevirapine. I had surpassed the two week trial period, and had graduated onto a twice-a-day regimen, at which point I had started experiencing low-grade fevers in the first couple of days. On the fifth day, however, my fever went up into the 40s, and at that point I was instructed to stop taking it, and to report as soon as possible to the RITM. Apparently I had begun experiencing allergic reactions to the drug, which was later on replaced with Efavirenz. I was able to observe rashes as well, even around five days after stopping the Nevirapine. The rash has subsided since, not really being too noticeable to begin with. Dealing with Nevirapine is not impossible, as I had met at least one other person who was well into the treatment, and not experiencing any allergic reactions.

One thing I was looking forward to with Nevirapine, is that people who were on it are said to tend to gain weight, a huge fantasy for a hard gainer as myself. Too bad it didn't work out.


Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Oh Efa, My Efa

EfavirenzEfavirenz. We’d actually met long before it became part of my own regimen.

The first time U and I met, we watched a movie together. The movie time just happened to encompass the time he was supposed to take his medicines. He had accidentally dropped his Efavirenz inside the theater, and he couldn’t figure out where it went. We waited for the end of the movie when all the other people in our row had stood and left. With our cellphones as lights, we started searching under the seats for his tablet. I asked him what it looked like, having no idea. He said it was a small, yellow tablet. I picked up something small and yellow. Good thing I didn’t shout that I’d found it, because I realized all I had in my hand was an unpopped kernel of corn which just may have come from heaven knows whose mouth. Recalling that incident still makes me giggle, with a bit of embarrassment as well.

So how was my first night through Efavirenz? I can’t really say. It’s a pretty cloudy picture. Here’s the deal, I took my first tablet last night at 9:30, along with the Lamivudine+Zidovudine. I was lights out by 10:00 pm. I left a small night light on in the room, just in case I wake up suddenly wondering where I am.

All I can recall is a whole lot of tossing and turning. I even remember telling myself I’d have to kill someone for keeping me up that late. The last time I checked the time it was past 1:00 am. At some point, I was lying in a plate of food, trying to split it into four portions... with my body. And of all things, it was adobo... chicken adobo. I do not have any particular addiction to chicken adobo. I found it a bit weird that I could recall it that vividly.

I’m not sure for which parts of the night I was actually awake or not, but I never ever recalled losing sight of my night light. So it’s either I had carried it over into my dream, or I hadn’t slept a wink. I honestly cannot figure it out. If only based on the headache I have right now and the bags under my eyes, I don’t think I slept a minute. Everything is just so fuzzy.

Hopefully, with the wear of still recovering from the Nevirapine, plus the possibility of two whole days without rest behind me by tonight, I’ll surely be seeing the sandman.


Monday, September 08, 2008

Dream, Dream, Dream

DreamI haven’t really been able to blog lately, not by any choice of my own, I was just literally physically unable to blog.

I had taken the trip out to the RITM mid-week last week. Half of my purpose was to introduce my new friend to the RITM, as he’d be starting his own journey very soon. The other half of my purpose was to update them on how I was doing with my meds.

I had started my double dose September 2nd, and was experiencing low-grade fevers the two days following. Sadly we didn’t catch the doctor, since she had a personal emergency she had needed to take care of. Instead Ate contacted her via mobile, and it was agreed that I’d try to continue the medication, and if anything else comes up or gets worse, I’d just inform them and they’d decide whether I was to stop or not.

And indeed, worse was it. Friday caught me down with the weather at work, where I was struggling to get through even the final few hours at work. I had a fever, which felt worse than my usual. I didn’t have my thermometer with me, so I had no way of telling. I had even gone up to the lobby of an upper floor to rest my eyes. I was feeling that bad.

Getting home, I locked myself in my room, and my trusty thermometer read a 39-degree fever. Still I wouldn’t give up and continued taking my medicines that evening.

Saturday morning came, and I still had the fever, this time it was up to 40 degrees. I realized that my thermometer could only read up to 42 degrees, so I was pretty alarmed. I didn’t even mind that it was just 7 in the morning, I sent a text message to Ate, to which she immediately replied for me to stop the Nevirapine and report to the RITM come Monday.

You’d think my problems were over, but the fever was hell. I felt half-dead and half-dying. Having no airconditioning, no fan, layered with a sweater and a blanket did nothing. The chills were coming from deep inside. I felt I needed to swallow a blanket or kill whatever vents were inside me. I just felt helpless.

I was locked in my room most of the weekend, tossing and turning in discomfort, sneaking in an occasional cold shower to disperse the fever I was experiencing. Monday, I called in to work sick, and just headed to the RITM in the afternoon. I still had a significant fever, and my body just felt so heavy. Each step felt ten times more of an effort to make. I figure I must’ve been walking like I had a hangover.

The verdict? The doctor concluded I was showing allergic reactions to the Nevirapine. Though I didn’t really see signs of being counted as the 103rd Dalmatian, the doctor did notice I was reddish around the face, something which I do not normally get, as I can only be dark or darker. I was just lucky enough I guess that it was an even color, something less noticeable that the kinds of rashes I’ve seen.

I ended up surrendering what Nevirapine I had left, which was one unopened bottle and about half of another, trading it in for my new best friend, Efavirenz. Yes, yes, the dreaming drug. One huge difference is that it’s only taken once a day. Some things I was told to watch out for are dizziness and the dreams, of course. Some people describe the dreams as very realistic, in full-color, plus they say the dreams are usually resumed in cases where you wake up in the middle of one. The doctor also warned me that in standard drug tests, Efavirenz causes false positives for Marijuana, which is never a good thing. So if ever the need arises, it should be advised to the laboratory prior, so they can proceed to a confirmatory test, for which it should turn out negative. Good thing I’m not due to get my license renewed for another three years.

As I’m writing this, I’m feeling a bit better. Less of a headache, and lower fever. I’m hoping this is a good sign, so I can report back to work tomorrow. For now, I’m almost due for my first dose of my new regimen. And boy, am I ready to dream!


Thursday, September 04, 2008

Blog or Not?

Question MarkTo blog or not to blog? That seems to be the question. I never realized how far my humble blog had reached until I personally heard some feedback from people who didn’t know that it was me. Unfortunately it was negative feedback.

They say I have given away to many details in this blog. Hmm. My mind raced trying to recall each and every entry I did. I know I never identified any other clients by name or any really distinguishing characteristics. Remember, I’m still trying to work on the rest of my alphabet friends.

Hell, if there’s any identity I’ve been giving away, it’s my own! If someone who knows me well enough puts all the little puzzle pieces together, he or she would know it was me no doubt!

Apparently, my giving away details on the hospitals and the doctors scares some pozzies. They’re afraid that if someone who reads my blog hears them talking about this doctor and that, and this hospital and that, then they’d automatically get linked to HIV and get outed. Hmm, and I thought I was paranoid.

Even the disclosure of the meaning of the term pusit was mentioned as foul, but that would no longer be solely in my hands, as it had been used and defined in news articles and television documentaries long before I was one.

Hearing all that just startled me, and really got me thinking about this blog. I had never meant for it to be a nuisance to my kind.

I thought this would be my outlet. I thought it would be a means of sharing what I am going through. I thought it would help people understand the importance of knowing your status. I thought it would emphasize the value of playing safe and staying negative. I thought that it would dispel the fears of others like me who live with HIV, but feel they are alone. I thought it would help those that are too afraid to start their own HIV journeys. I thought that it would open up our lives to others, towards more knowledge, support and understanding. I thought that it would show that we are not suffering from HIV, but rather living with it.

Personally, I think there are a lot more important things to deal with, than always having to worry about who hears what, and what that stranger thinks. The discretion of your conversations after all, will always be under your control. It must really be funny to hear all this from a self-confessed paranoid freak as myself.

So anyway, here’s my compromise. I’ve edited all my entries, removing all the doctors’ names, except those at the Social Hygiene Clinic of the Manila Health Department, because they actually WANT people to see them and get tested. The hospital names, I’ll have to keep, because I really think it would be a huge help for pozzies like me to know their options through my experiences. How I wish I had some references to guide me through the early days of my journey. It just so happened I was lucky enough to meet the right people. Others might not be that lucky.

Oh, and about the pusit thing, blame the Inquirer and ABS-CBN.

I can’t take back what I’ve written before, nor erase what people have already read. Albeit I be Will Smith in Men In Black and use my Neuralyzer to zap all those memories away.

It’s been one thing for me to lock myself in my closet, and another thing for the rest of the world to scare me into a corner. But it feels as if someone just like me just hooked the latch… from outside! Suddenly the World Wide Web feels so limiting.

I know, I know, it’s the stigma connected to HIV that those like me are afraid of. But it’s precisely the lack of knowledge due to it being such a huge taboo that fuels that stigma. Hopefully the time will come when we can openly talk about this without the fear of being burned at the stake.

But for now, I humbly submit and bid goodnight. But fear not, my story shall continue... tomorrow.


Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Low, Low, Low

LowI haven’t really been feeling well today. Yesterday was my first day on the full dose of ARVs, and I woke up this morning with a low-grade fever. Using my dad’s old thermometer, I took a reading of around 37.7 degrees Celsius at 5:30 in the morning.

Getting a fever doesn’t usually get me down, but it being one of the Tres Marias I was told to watch out for – rashes, fever and flu – I needed to consider if I had to do something about it.

I’m still hoping the fever was just a fluke. The extreme changes in weather here, from wet and cold in the evening and hot and humid in the daytime, may just have gotten to me. Plus my mom is nursing a flu, and one of my bosses is, too, and still reporting to work. Those just might be some factors.

So with that, I decided I’d take it. The doctor specifically told me not to experiment with Paracetamols should a fever happen, so I didn’t. I was feeling a bit better on the way to work, having been able to work up a sweat on the morning walk to and from the bus routes.

Just before my 9:30 schedule this morning, I got tasked to play messenger, to take a trip to Makati to personally deliver a check to an important contractor. This wasn’t the best day, but I did it.

I drank my meds and headed off in the heat of the Manila horizon. I was there and back in under two hours. We ate lunch here at the office, and here I am. Feeling better. No fever, no rashes, no flu, but terribly sleepy.

Good thing I have a trip to the RITM scheduled tomorrow afternoon. Primarily, I’ll be accompanying a new friend of mine to introduce him to the places and the people and get him started on his "journey". I’ll be able to consult my personal concerns with the doctor as well, regarding the lab results, the fever and the ARVs.

Tomorrow will be another long day.