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 21, 2009

My HPV Brothers

BrothersHPV. The Human Papilloma Virus. Lately it’s been all over the boob tube, with a commercial promoting a vaccine against HPV. It is said that eight out of ten sexually-active women are at risk of contracting HPV, which causes cervical cancer, genital warts, vulvar cancer and other diseases.

Hold on. Nope, I do not have HPV. Not as far as I know, that is.

During the lifetime of this blog, I’ve encountered two guys who were diagnosed with HPV. You’d be wondering what they were doing lurking around a blog about HIV. Mostly because, as having other STDs is one red flag to look out for, they were advised by their respective doctors to get tested as well for HIV.

Although I’ve never met either of them in person, I was able communicate with them regarding questions and concerns they had about HIV, and was witness to the agonizing wait they had to endure before getting their HIV test results. The great news behind their stories is that they both tested negative for HIV. Excellent news, actually. Or so you’d think.

Considering not many people understand HIV, even less people know about HPV. The commercial that’s been being shown on TV only centers on women being victims of HPV. And other than that, I’ve never seen any documentaries or reports that tackled the subject of HPV, unlike HIV which has had more than its fifteen seconds of fame.

Similarities between HIV and HPV abound. Both are primarily sexually-transmitted, and both still have no cure. Both viruses are risks to everyone regardless of gender, and, as my two friends show, regardless of sexual orientation – yes, one of them is straight, and the other is not. And as I continued communicating with these two guys, we realized that we’ve been able to experience the same things – confusion, anxiety, depression, paranoia, and insecurities, among others.

We’ve realized so much similarities that one of them even thought of the idea of mimicking this blog! If I was PinoyPoz, he would be PinoyWart. If this was Back In The Closet, his would be Wart In The Closet. So if I was B.I.T.C.H., he would be W.I.T.C.H.! Hahaha. A brilliant idea, if I may say so myself. Watch out for that blog, in case it pushes through!

As such, I think they realized that there is hope after HPV, just as I did with HIV. And in some ways, they appreciate the positivity with which I’ve been able to face my new life with HIV, and have been able to – hopefully – adopt that same attitude in theirs.

But the similarities between HIV and HPV practically end there. Upon giving things some thought, I realize that we who live with HIV are in a way luckier than our HPV counterparts. How so?

Well, for one thing, unbeknownst to most, me included, there are types of HPV that can be transmitted by less sexual contact, from the skin or mucous membranes in casual contacts, whereas HIV would require exchanges of bodily fluids such as semen, blood and vaginal fluids. As such, people living with HPV may need to take even more care – more care than even a condom can give.

But more importantly, there is more activism behind awareness and healthcare surrounding HIV. I don’t think there are NGO’s or support groups for people living with HPV. At least, I’ve not heard of any. There is also nothing close to R.A. 8504, or the Philippine AIDS Act, that protects those with HPV. And people living with HIV have access to free checkups, and free medication – something that cannot be said for those with HPV. There is no such thing as for them either, which aims for awareness and understanding of a plight with the virus.

But negativity aside, I’m glad to say I’m still in touch with these two guys until today. Regardless of the fact that their HIV test results came out negative, they’ve professed how life-changing this experience has been, and expressed their continued support for people like me who live with HIV.

And in as much as I’ve realized that we with HIV seem luckier than those with HPV, I therefore move that our fight for awareness, understanding, respect, empowerment, and positivity, transcend the viral strains with which we live. I motion that we adopt these guys into our little community, not exactly as honorary pusits, but more like – our HPV brothers. Any objections?


Anonymous said...

ako ata itong binanggit mo pards.. hehe

Pinoywart logging in. hehe :)

PinoyPoz said...

Hahahaha! PinoyWart is back!