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, April 13, 2009

Think Positive!

The day had come. I was in front of the telly as early as 9:00 pm, switching channels to and from Miss Congeniality 2, Extreme Makeover Home Edition, Top Design, and GMA 7, of course. I’m sorry, I just could not stand seeing Yaya Patani on Ful Haus, which finally ended around 11:00 pm. This is it. This is really is it.

At around 11:05, as my ARVs kicked in, the show started with a definition of HIV, moving into vignettes of Vicky Morales showing common myths regarding transmission. Wanggo Gallaga’s story then followed – his risks, acceptance, and disclosure. His dad, Peque Gallaga then frowned on how people connect conditions like HIV to being punishments from God. I had to nod my head to that. I was amazed to realize that all this was just the introduction to the program, as the title sequence swept in: Think Positive.

Earlier meant to focus on 18 to 25 year olds, I noticed they shifted the at-risk group to span up to the age of 29, and realized I did barely fit into this category, having been diagnosed just weeks before my 30th birthday. Should I feel proud? Not exactly. Hehe.

Following the first gap, they went into HIV testing. Vince, a seafarer, was to get a mandatory HIV test for employment – lo and behold – at the Social Hygiene Clinic in Manila! My very own! Kiko, a freelance writer, was also to get tested because he had been engaging in risky behavior. They showed a clip of the pre-test counseling, followed by a gut-wrenching shot of blood extraction. The thing that makes me go eeew.

As Vince and Kiko began the agonizing wait for their test results, the story transitioned to Echo, a counselor, who then discloses his HIV-positive status. He told his story towards the realization that life still has meaning, in spite of HIV.

Going back, we followed Vince and Kiko’s blood samples to the STD/AIDS Cooperative Central Laboratory, or SACCL, where they gave us an idea of how the tests are done. Vicky Morales then stated how opportunistic infections, and not AIDS, are the killers. Perfecto. A Dr. Avelino of the Philippine National AIDS Council, or PNAC, then discussed the modes of transmission of the virus, and how it may take years after infection for symptoms to arise.

Finally, Vince’s test results were handed to him by my own Dr. Diana Mendoza of the SHC. I was stunned when, as the doctor told him he’s negative, he actually needed to cry on her shoulder. Considering he wasn’t blurred out, I just thought to myself, hmm, this is disclosure of a different kind. Hehe. Okay I’m an ass, sorry. Kiko was negative as well, but still within the window period. He did however speak about realizing the need to protect himself from then on. Truly, positive or negative, HIV tests are life changing.

DOH statistics were next, where, as of 2008 records, there are 3,589 Filipinos with HIV. Estimated true value? Almost double that. A total of 528 were diagnosed in 2008 alone, of which I am just one. Highest prevalence was among age groups 25-29 and 30-34, and 70% were male. One shocking number was that 42% of those diagnosed in December of 2008 were aged from 15 to 24 years, and mostly MSM, or men who have sex with men. Fifteen years old?! Geez.

Several vignettes of Filipinos living with HIV followed. Greg was diagnosed in Dubai prior to the start of his employment. Though he ended with a life-must-go-on attitude, he ushered in the internet as a potential risk factor for the spread of the virus, via personals sites, sex eyeballs and the like. Me? Guilty.

Segueing from the HIV and AIDS situation around the world, a couple of Filipinos living with HIV in the United States were shown. With Charles’ story, came the fact that 31% of HIV-infections in San Francisco are Filipino-Americans, attributing to the apparent ease with which Filipinos blend with western cultures. Henry came next, telling of his current partner of 10 years who is HIV-negative. Indeed, there is hope! Hehe.

Before taking the story back to local soils, I need to point out how doctors in the US have a “cleaning” method for HIV-positive sperm, in order to keep an HIV-negative woman safe when attempting pregnancy. Very interesting.

Back to ‘Pinas, Elvira was next, who I recognized to be my S. I encountered her before at the RITM, remember? She was the female face in this HIV documentary, as she told of the time when medical personnel in Bicol refused to treat her ailing child because they were both HIV-positive, even threatening to have them thrown in jail. Sadly, this caused the eventual demise of her child. But bouncing back, she is proud to be the not-so-stereotypical HIV-positive person, and is now a project coordinator with one of the NGOs.

A short description of Republic Act 8504, the Philippine AIDS Prevention and Control Act of 1998, made way for John, who worked for a call center, and was diagnosed in February of 2008 during a pre-employment medical exam for a job opportunity abroad. He was monogamous with his partner at the time – ergo, not my promiscuous type – but still was exposed to the virus.

And there it was. A guy sitting in front of a computer, surfing and typing. Ngarrr, okay, it was me. The B.I.T.C.H. was on TV. I think I spaced out recognizing myself on the screen. I was cold. I was feverish. I don’t know if it was because I was self-conscious, or it was just the meds. I don’t remember much, other than seeing how bad my posture was and hearing myself explain why I decided to start blogging and describing HIV as nandito na and napapag-usapan. You be the judge.

Positivism wasn’t part of the story, other than a few screen shots that I saw and some videos which were reminiscent of those we have on the e-mag. Darn. Maybe next time.

The plot thickened as they featured statement from the CBCP putting the kontra into contraception again, but thankfully ending with the proposed Reproductive Health Bill which is going through its legislative paces.

A little past midnight, the documentary ended with a reminder of the ABCDEs that can help keep one safe from the virus. Eeeehh memorize ko na yan! Hehe.

Was it just me, or did anyone notice how heavy a commercial load the show had for a late Sunday evening? Were companies actually willing to support this once taboo topic? That’s a good sign, right?

Anyways, other than the fact that it went way past my bedtime, and not because I was part of it, and not even because it seemed to give so much mileage to this blog, I gave the documentary four thumbs up. Yes, four thumbs, because I was cross-eyed with my drowsiness and medicinal high combined. Hehehe.

But seriously, although I would have really wanted it to really take the “positive” angle of HIV to its happiest maximum... and although I thought it was still too huge an issue to cramp into an hour... I thought it was PERFECTO!

Again, kudos to the people who worked on this. "World View Presents Think Positive!" was produced by GMA News and Public Affairs. Executive producer and writer, Jay Orense. Writer and researcher, Glenn Ala. Director and segment producer, Maey Bautista. Researcher, Marie Ann Saballegue. Uhm, is there any way we can get a copy of this? :-D

What did you think about it?

21 comments:

dreal6cyclemind said...

Galing...Four thumbs-up din ako..kasi ang daming commercials..hehehe...Pero galing nila, lalo na yung guy na kausap ni Ms. Morales na may guitar sa background..hehehe....

rubypurple said...

Can I just copy paste my comment on your earlier post? *LOL*

The show fascinated me, most of the things I already knew from you. How they present the story is what made the difference.

I'm so proud of you, not just for being on the show, but for the comments/insights you shared with the staff offcam. I think YOU made the difference. :)

Love ya hun. *hugs*

Turismoboi said...

i didnt catch it churi!

wonderland said...

Hey hey!:)

never passed the chance to watch this :) the guy from the ngo ek-ek in puerto told me about this las weekend pa

galing! :)

most of the info i got naman from here eh hahahah!

but i was glad na others got the chance to be informed

i just hope madami ang nanuod and na-educate about this

G said...

i agree with rubypurple. thanks again, pinoypoz!

sterndal said...

hello!

nalaman ko po itong blog mo sa palabas sa channel 7 (think positive).

sana maraming makabasa ng blog mo para ma-inspire sila :)

more power!

thanks!

Ryan said...

watched this too... it was really informative... thanks for sharing your story too... i wish you well po...

can i ask a question?

i went for HIV screening sa isang hospital laboratory... i asked them if i could keep my name confidential, but still pinalagay pa rin nila both sa receipt at sa DOH survey form... i pointed out to them that the patient may opt to hide his identity or use an alias as indicated in the form kaso pinalagay pa rin nila ang name ko, plus the alias. tapos name ko pa rin yung nilagay sa blood sample ko... di ko na ipinilit kasi ang lakas ng boses, nahihiya na ako sa mga kasabay ko sa lab. buti na lang nag negative ako... but the question is, hindi ba mali ang ginagawa nila? paano ba yung implementation ng RA 8504? di ba confidential dapat yung identity kung gusto ng pasyente? nagdadalawang isip na tuloy akong bumalik dun if ever i need to get tested again...

thanks.

danyhael said...

galing ni vicky kasi she delivered the documentary in a "kwela" sort-of way. parang telling the world na it's not a big deal to have it but it's a big deal not to know about it. really cool.

poz, how's the facial wash naman? kala ko nag-a-advertise ka na nun. ^_^

ericking said...

too bad i didn't catch it on tv. but im so damn proud of you man, for coming out in the open and telling your story. though i dont have HIV, iba padin kasi ang pag-stereotype ng tao eh.. mapangutya ang iba... kaya saludo ako sayo. you have kick-ass writing and i couldn't wait to read more.. have a great day.

PinoyPoz said...

Thanks everyone, but I refuse to take all the credit. Everyone who was in on it should be congratulated. And thanks as well to you who opened your minds enough to watch and understand. :-D

PinoyPoz said...

@Ryan: From my own experience, I only needed to give my real name to the nurse or doctor who gave the referral for the HIV test, along with the pre-test counseling. Ergo, only this doctor or nurse could connect my real identity to the alias or codename that I gave.

I got my test for free, so I wouldn't know whose name is supposed to appear at the cashier.

Anyone else who would be handling the lab referral, blood sample, and test result would only see the codename or alias that I chose to give.

I think ang naging foul sa case mo is nilagay yung totoong name mo sa blood sample. The truth is, di talaga sometimes inoobserve ang dapat na SOP when it comes to HIV tests, which is wrong. This is something the DOH should address.

Ryan said...

salamat... paano kaya mairereport sa DOH yung ganun?

anyway, gusto ko sana i-try dun sa Manila Social Hygiene Clinic, di ba yun yung na-feature sa Think Positive? kaya lang weekdays lang kasi sila open eh... mahirap mag-leave sa work, especially kung hindi ko pwede i-disclose yung reason for taking a leave. well, i might go back naman sa July pa... nasa window period pa kasi nung nagpa test ako sa sinasabi kong hospital lab. sana negative talaga ako come July.

nahihirapan ako kasi mag-isa lang ako pumupunta... i didn't tell any close friend at all.

PinoyPoz said...

Actually, dun din nga ako nadiagnose sa Manila Social Hygiene Clinic. Well, keep us updated... Syempre sana negative pa rin nga. No risky sexual acts while waiting for the window period to pass ha?

Ryan said...

Thanks. Yes, I'll keep you updated. Hmmm, I haven't done anything with anyone at all after that night. Hay. Life changing talaga ang HIV, whether one tests positive or negative. Sana negative pa rin.

Anyway, thanks so much for your help... I might go back some time if I have some other questions, and of course to see how you are doing. I really wish you well. Keep yourself healthy, alright?

Thanks again.

O said...

Hi, PinoyPoz, great show it was! Saluto, i miei amici!

For an issue that requires caution, tactfulness, and expert handling, I'm glad that GMA was able to produce a show with lean meat content that used A1 resource people. Vicky Morales' presentation was enjoyable and didn't sound off a cringingly bad note. I now love her more.

I hope millions have watched and have been informed.

This is your friend O.

PinoyPoz said...

OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!! Si O ko yan, si O! :-D

Colbourn Family said...

i miss it, kasi naman nasa bakasyon na ako nun.

saan ba pwede watch ulit yun?

Anonymous said...

The universe conspired that I be not anywhere but home that night. I saw it. And i must say it is yet the most sensible docu on HIV/AIDS made by any filipino media organization. Yes, the whole issue is too big for an hour of air time but nonetheless every segment stood out and made one great story. I was most excited waiting for your feature. Yes, I've been anticipating since your announcement here over a month ago. Nice debut!

-- excited stranger.

pee-jhay said...

i do love the show really....got moved of the stories relayed..

be tough..be positive and be an inspiration to everyone always okies!

cound'nt wait for your future blogs...ciao!

Anonymous said...

hi ano ba naging symptomps mo bakit nagpatest ka ng hiv?

PinoyPoz said...

well, that's the tragedy of it all, i had no symptoms. i just wanted to get tested. :-D pero okay na rin, at least i found out na i had it and that i needed to take responsibility na.