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.

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.


E said...

Social Hygiene Clinic is the best!! I love love Dra Diana and Tita Malou! I also do volunteer work for them..It's so fun helping them out :-) Sometimes if there's a newly diagnosed poz they also introduce me to them and we also give counseling...
I agree, they have been busy for quite sometime now, they are more proactive when it comes to testing and spreading awareness..You saw their schedule right? on the board betwwen Tita malou and dr diane's office..
I hope you adjust to your new ARV so you can be "more energy mas happy :)"

Have a great weekend!! Hope to bump into to you again soon!!

PinoyPoz said...

Bump into me anytime, my Social Hygiene brother! Hehehe.

True, with all due respect for the doctors at the RITM, SHC will always be first in my heart. Which is why I have no qualms still coming home to them to get my other lab work done, and in this case, my Penicillin shots, too. They've seen my ass a handful of times already, but I feel no shame. Next week will be shot number six... hehehe... but I'll be back for my quantitative RPRs every three months for the next year!

I sure hope I get some time off to help them out as well, or just spend some more time there.

thonnibg said...

Well,welcome back home!


PinoyPoz said...

Thanks Toni! Good to hear from you again!