It was almost 6:00 pm, and the rain was pouring hard. I was hoping it would hold up just long enough to give me time to get to the mall dry to some degree, but it didn’t seem likely. I was nearest to the agreed meeting place, and as such, should have been least likely to be late. So I whipped out my long wind-proof umbrella and decided to brave the rain.
It was Saturday. Payday weekend. Family day.
RubyPurple was going to be late because of traffic. JohnStanley was going to be late because he was coming from further away. I got there late, just as I expected, bogged down further by the huge crowd. I spotted TurismoBoi and his friend as I approached, and greeted them. With so many people lined up waiting to get inside, TurismoBoi decided we go to from Gilligan’s to Max’s instead.
We were seated after a few minutes, ordered for ourselves and started catching up while waiting for the others. RubyPurple soon arrived, followed shortly by JohnStanley.
With the common complaint about the huge number of people at the mall and seeing families all around, I reckon we were the only group not buying school supplies for any kids of our own. But you know what? We weren’t any less of a family amongst ourselves.
RubyPurple and I had been chatting a lot about this get-together this week. Initially, TurismoBoi just had dinner planned, but RubyPurple and I came up with this plan for us to go videoke after. I can’t sing, and RubyPurple denies that she can, so we must’ve been really crazy and really shameless to even fathom this plan.
After our sarap-to-the-bones dinner just before 9:00 pm, TurismoBoi accompanied his friend who had to go, agreeing to meet us at RedBox in a bit. RedBox was packed, so we needed to just wait and hope for a vacancy. With TurismoBoi catching up to us, TristanTales dropping by, an hour, and my tummy full of very gay, very strawberry ColdRock Ice Cream later, and still no room available, we decided to find somewhere else to go.
With RubyPurple and I in a convoy with JohnStanley, TurismoBoi and TristanTales, we scoured the QC area to find other videoke places. Finally, we settled for the only place we knew and could find on Timog Avenue. Although it was already fully-booked at the time, we didn’t have to wait long before a room became available. As we headed up, TristanTales had to leave us to go to a prior engagement in another part of the Metro. And then there were four.
It was already midnight, and after ordering some pulutan and a drink each, and my ARVs safely down my gullet, the show began. Granted, it was TurismoBoi who emerged the real singer among us, everybody was singing. Even me. I know. Gasp. I was actually choosing songs and keying them into the videoke thingy. Gasp again.
And with everything from sad songs to love songs, solos to duets, and pop tunes to novelty songs in our repertoire, the evening was nothing short of fun. In the middle of tonight’s program, without Stop in any of the song lists, sadly, the Spice Girls may have had to disband. But, alas, Smokey Mountain was formed. We now have our signature song, again complete with choreography. Hehehe.
Even a bit of a Stresstabs-iuwi-mo-na-yan moment didn’t dampen things. Fine, TurismoBoi was the runaway winner of the Energizer award, but surprisingly, I kept up. I even found it odd that I didn’t feel drowsy or dizzy because of being up past my bedtime and taking my ARVs.
I think it was past 3:00 am when we finished our queue of songs. It was time to go. Heading our separate ways, with TurismoBoi hitching with RubyPurple and me with JohnStanley, we called it a night... or an early morning. It’s been a while since I was last on a gimmick like this, and certainly a longer while since I had this much fun on a gimmick like this.
No inhibitions, no shame, it was just fun and comfortable. Even if my kumare couldn’t make it, with daddy JohnStanley, mommy RubyPurple, and baby TurismoBoi there... okay fine, I’ll settle for being the lolo, the yaya or the family pet... we certainly had our own version of a family day.
Thanks guys and gal!
- 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.
Sunday, May 31, 2009
It was almost 6:00 pm, and the rain was pouring hard. I was hoping it would hold up just long enough to give me time to get to the mall dry to some degree, but it didn’t seem likely. I was nearest to the agreed meeting place, and as such, should have been least likely to be late. So I whipped out my long wind-proof umbrella and decided to brave the rain.
Friday, May 29, 2009
Guys and gals, I just received word that we just lost one of our kind. After suffering from multiple infections, a pusit just bit the dust. But of course, he is not just a pusit. He is someone’s son, someone’s brother, someone’s friend, someone’s lover. May God bless his soul.
I hope to be able to get in touch with the family soon. Although we do not know him personally, please take a moment to say a little prayer for him. Thank you. Updates later.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
There’s just something about this month of May that’s been keeping me on my toes all the time. I’m not sure if I should be relieved or not that it’s finally coming to a close.
But one good thing that happened in May was that I met someone. I met Mr. D.
D started off stalking this blog in April probably. We chatted for just a day or two, if I remember right, before we talked on the phone. The first really memorable conversation between D and I was actually... phone sex. Teehee. O, don’t judge us, we were just having fun.
For me it was certainly the safest sex that could be had. For him it was just red hot fireworks to usher in my special day. So certainly, there was some sexual tension between us. And thanks to Yahoo! Messenger and unlimited calls, we kept in touch. No commitments or anything of that sort, mind you.
Shortly after, we decided to meet. He offered to pick me up after work. As I spotted the make and color of the car I was looking out for, I hopped in. He had always been modest about his looks, but as I lay my eyes on my new friend, he was as hot, sexy and yummilicious as I thought he would be. Roarrr.
D and I had a scrumptuous dinner of my favorite pizza and pasta combo, and a lively chat over some juice to cap off the evening. And then it was confirmed. I had fallen... I had fallen into the kumare-zone. Hehehe. Well, more like he put me there. I still pegged him as my hot, sexy and yummilicious friend. Nothing bad about that, right?
So anyway, after that, we still kept in touch. D and I would always be badgering each other daily over YM, mostly just joking around and making fun of people and each other. And because we had developed an air of comfort and trust between us, he was one of those who stood witness to my May mood swings, including the time I fell sick and my emo-bitter moments. I reckon he’s a professional okray-therapist.
I’d like to believe I was there for him as well, as in one conversation we had, he mentioned he’d been wanting to get tested for HIV for the past year or so, but never had the guts to. He admitted he’d never gotten tested before, and certainly had some reasons for concern. So I promised I’d accompany him to get tested at the RITM, as I’d need to go and get a med refill anyway.
I accompanied him Monday to get tested, and he accompanied me to get my ARV supply. It was pretty straight forward, although I did go through a couple of prayers while his blood was being extracted. Contrary to expected, I still do not like finding out people are HIV-positive. It’s still not a case of the-more-the-merrier.
I got tasked to badger Ate daily after that to check whether the results were ready. D and I both had the freaky notion that if the results weren’t out within the week, something must be wrong. Hehehe. I think my paranoia rubbed off on him.
Finally, Friday came. Ate had advised me beforehand that the results should be ready by then. I took the afternoon off from work to go with D. We had lunch prior to going, but he really didn’t have an appetite worrying about his results. Getting there, we waited impatiently at Ate’s desk for the results. D’s anxiety was making me anxious as well. He was unusually quiet, and I just didn’t know how to appease him. Finally, someone delivered a couple of envelopes to Ate. I recognized D’s codename on one of them.
Ate called him over to one of the other desks. Initially he had wanted me to read the results for him, but I told him he had to do it himself... besides I couldn’t take the tension either. I watched his reaction from afar as Ate opened the envelope and showed him the results. All I saw was it seemed he felt the needed to sit down after seeing it. Was it good? Was it bad? Geez, I needed to know.
Non-reactive. Negative. D heaved his sigh of relief. I did too. And we hugged. I got what I had been praying for... his negative result... and the hug na rin. Hahaha.
It didn’t take long before D snapped back to his fun old self. And since he would still need a follow-up test to cover the window period, I needed to ask if he felt it might be easier going for the second test. I had no reference of my own, because I never got to a second test, remember?
For now, D and I remain good friends. I think we’ve fallen further into that kumare-zone where we no longer have reputations to live up to between us, and we’ve managed to share all our dirty little secrets. Well, almost all. Getting there, I guess.
We even have some magic words which just crack us up, like pakbet, belt, carwash, and thighs. Hehehe. Don’t even ask. But really, considering it’s been barely even a month, I do hope this is just the beginning of a happy, comfortable, and fun friendship. D. My friend. My kumare. My source of okray-therapy. Hot, sexy, yummilicious D.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
This latest barrage of sex video scandal thingies has really gotten out of hand. The media, the senate, some leftist organizations... just everyone’s gotten in on it, or is at least trying, so I refuse to be left behind. Just as expected, my fingers always have something to say.
For those who don’t already know, we’re not talking here about the allegedly-sexy-but-really-not-that-sexy video of him singing and dancing in his underwear along with an equally-clad her. It really wasn’t sexy to begin with. I even found it funny. So that particular one was more of a scam than a scandal.
There are, however, real, all-the-way sex videos here. Was I shocked? Not really. Excited? Not really either. The problem I have with this situation is that other people seem to be shocked for the wrong reasons.
For some people, it boils down to medical ethics. Medical ethics?! What’s medical and unethical about it? Is it the having sex part? Is it the having sex with several different women? Is it the video part? Is it the lack of consent of the other party?
It’s not so uncommon for a doctor to have sex. Doctors are humans. And they have sex. Trust me, I know. Now, if it’s the having sex with different women part, geesh, they’re doctors, not saints.
As for the video part, with the technology these days, everyone now has the chance to fulfill a fantasy to become a porn star. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but you have to admit, it’s certainly something that can definitely tickle the imagination.
I have no excuse for not having the other party’s consent to do the videos. Is he a genius for getting away with it? Maybe. But personally, I would’ve been pissed that the videos weren’t any better. I actually think the videos would have been better if the women were in on it. If there’s anything foul about it, it’s making me believe it’s a sex video when it didn’t even turn me on!
Besides, with or without the video, I do believe that they could and would still have had sex. Again, sex happens. Whether you like it or not, it does. So don’t get self-righteous about it. Would it suddenly have become ethical if he didn’t get caught with the videos?
For some, it’s about abuse of women. I always wonder whether these women’s groups really mean what they say when they fight for equality. I’m sorry, but this is just overplaying the kawawa-factor of women. Just because someone suddenly chooses not to wear make-up, not to have her hair done and not to dress like a slut, doesn’t automatically make her the victim.
I think for me, the worst part I’ve heard is about the involvement of drugs. Well, certainly, being under the influence of drugs can cloud your notions of what’s right or wrong and cause you to make choices you might regret. But then again... did anyone get forced into taking drugs in the first place?
Sex. Videos. Scandals. They happen. Just like HIV, they are a reality. So quit making a big fuss out of it. I dunno. I just think everyone should have been mature enough to just take responsibility for their actions. Don’t go around just blaming others. It’s there. Deal with it.
It’s like HIV. Unless you were forced into unprotected sex, then you have no one to blame but yourself. But actually, don’t blame yourself. Suck it up and take it... the consequences, that is. Oh, and speaking of unprotected sex, people should have had more vigilance against that occurrence in the videos than the videos themselves.
And just like HIV, it’s seemingly all about stigma, it’s seemingly all about shame. Aren’t we all just being a tad self-righteous?
Anyways, seeing those video scandals didn’t really leave me scandalized. It just left me wishing things were hotter, clearer, more creative, and honestly, bigger. Basically, better. Trust me, I’ve done much better... ahh... err... I mean... I’ve seen much better. Oopsy.
I don’t know if it says more about me, or more about the videos, but I was anything but shocked. I guess I have a higher threshold for scandal these days. Or maybe I always have. It’s probably because I have dirty secrets of my own. But then, who doesn’t?
Monday, May 25, 2009
Er. Er, as in er.
Er. It’s a Filipino gay term which sort of refers to people, usually men in particular, who engage in manual labor. The construction worker, the carpenter, the janiter, the garbage collecter, the plumber, the driver and so many others. As you notice, all very manly professions. That is the er.
Lately, I’ve been struck by the urge to be er.
I’ve always been a pretty handy and resourceful guy. I remember when I was younger, I used to fix my little cousins’ toys armed with just a screwdriver and a bottle of white glue. And I was pretty good at it.
Eventually, I graduated to more manly stuff, being able to put those assembly-required pieces of furniture together very easily. At some point, I would laugh impishly at the fact that I was manlier than my straight brother in that aspect.
And today, I have a pretty adequate set of tools. In an actual tool kit. Not even one of those tool kits with nail polish and make-up inside, okay? I have screw drivers, pliers, chisels, a saw, a tape measure, brackets and screws, electrical wires, screws, nails and washers, hinges and latches, a pair of those Gryptonite wrenches they sell on TV, and even an electrical drill, a soldering iron and a jig saw. Nay, bading ba talaga ako?
I’m not sure if my science and engineering background helped at all, but I am self-learned in basic electricals, plumbing, carpentry, painting, and other atypically gay stuff. Very, very er.
For my latest project, I wanted to install an exhaust fan in my room, supposedly in time for the hot summer days. I had it all planned out. I had measured an upper window and bought an exhaust fan that could fit in it. All I needed to do was remove a part of the glass pane to make way for it.
In my imagination, I knew what I needed to do. But of course, things don’t always go according to plan. I first wired an electrical outlet and a switch to power the exhaust fan. I had bought myself a diamond-tipped glass-cutter at the local hardware, but was really unsure of how easy it was going to be. Cutting glass was not something I had done before. But I was hell-bent on trying.
I knew how dangerous glass could be, and I wasn’t planning on ending up with any open wounds that could get infected and stuff. So I took as much caution as I could. I had scored part of the glass pane to get it ready to break easily. A couple of taps with a hammer, nothing. I whipped out my chisel, and whacked it with that and the hammer. I heard a crack. Supposedly good, but... I ended up breaking the whole pane of glass instead. Oh, well.
Not to be beaten, I slowly removed every bit of glass from the window, including the wood molding that held it in place. With that out of the way, I installed the exhaust fan and just covered the exposed part of the window with a piece of plywood. Looking at it working now makes me think, pwede na.
It was a tough job, but someone had to do er.
Now almost a month later, the only thing left is for the wound I sustained to heal completely. Believe me when I say it was pretty bad, as I witnessed it go through a spectrum of Christmas colors, from blood red to pus green. Eeew.
So what caused it? Was it a shard of glass? No. Was in a splinter of wood? I wish. It was... gasp... a paper cut. Sigh.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
HPV. 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 Positivism.ph 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?
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
I had a relationship.
That was your explanation. That was the explanation as to why you moved away.
But it explained nothing.
It was just... lame.
That was not an explanation. That didn’t explain anything. It just brought about even more questions.
I had a relationship. That’s not an explanation. That’s a kiss-ass attempt to cover your ass and clear your conscience.
I had a relationship. That’s not even an excuse.
I had a relationship. Was I supposed to feel happy for you?
I was like a fish. A fish on your hook. If I wasn’t the kind you were looking for, or if I wasn’t big enough, or if I wasn’t fresh enough, then the least you could’ve done was take me off the hook and throw me back into the water.
But no. You made sure you kept me on your hook. I had to live through YM statuses that ranged from is working, is busy, to is super busy. I thought I just needed to be understanding, and still made the effort to keep in touch. But at some point it was like you wanted me to take a hint. If you were really that busy, you shouldn’t have had time to log into YM in the first place.
But then every single time I’d feel some slack on your rope, you made sure to reel me back in. You were right to say you had bad timing. And considering I gave you every chance to tell me no, stop, enough or get off my back, you really had very bad timing.
Lines like I’ll see you soon and may inaasikaso lang... what else are they supposed to mean? Well, of course, may inaasikaso ka nga naman. Sino ba’ng hindi? But you could’ve been man enough to say it was a someone, and not a something, that you were making asikaso.
You always said you wanted to be famous. Your ability to do anything and everything and trample over anything in your way without hints of heart nor soul tells me you’ll get there. Ouch. Insert applause here.
I did say the least we could be is friends. But how can I regard you as a friend if you have no respect for me? That’s all I needed. Respect. And I don’t think that’s too much to ask, do you?
I had a relationship. That was anything but an explanation. I led you on. I didn’t really like you. I no longer needed you. I used you. Now those are explanations.
Lesson learned: Before respecting me as a pusit, you have to respect me first as a person. Because over and above being just a pusit, I am a person.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
I’m depressed. I’m weak.
I’m paranoid. I’m pathetic.
I’m nothing. I'm crap.
I’m not okay.
Everything you said to me has been reduced to crap. Thank you. I no longer know what part of it, if any, was true. The same way you made me believe in myself was the exact same way you tore me apart.
But I was okay. I didn’t need an explanation. I had made sense of it all already. It hurt, but at least it made sense. It needed to make sense. I needed it to make sense. I forced it to make sense.
And then, when I least expected it, just when I was getting over it, you reminded me. You reminded me again. You reminded me of all my self-doubt. You reminded me how badly it hurt.
Why now? You’d walked past me already. You didn’t just walk past me. You walked all over me. Why did you have to turn and look back? Did you enjoy seeing me hurting? Were you dead set on making sure I wouldn’t be able to stand from my fall?
You gave me the explanation I was looking for. But it was too late. You gave it when I no longer needed it. Why did you do it? Why did you have to do it? Was your conscience eating you up? Were you feeling bad about it?
Did it ever strike you that what you were feeling was just a teeny weeny fraction of what hurt you’d already caused me? A teeny weeny fraction of what hurt you were bringing to me yet again?
What is this for you? Washing your hands? Wiping off your feet? And what am I, your doormat? That’s selfish. You never even thought of leaving me with my dignity.
I should have listened to my instincts. My instincts were right. But I gave you the chance. I gave you the chance to hurt me. I gave you the chance to pull me down. I gave you the chance to rub my face in the dirt.
I can’t do this anymore. I can’t pretend it doesn’t hurt. I want to cry but I can’t. I need to save face. That’s all I have right now. That’s all you left me with.
I’m not this strong. I’m not. I’m numb. But not numb enough. It hurts. I wish HIV just made me numb. Why couldn’t HIV do that?
Is this my karma? Have I done something bad? What did I do to deserve this?
What I hate most is that I don’t hate you. I just hate myself. Thank you. These are the times when I question the existence of love, respect and humanity. And no. I’m not okay.
Monday, May 18, 2009
Following in the footsteps of Fergie, Pam Anderson, and Linda Evangelista, a Los Angeles–based drag queen named Ongina has become the latest spokesperson for the M•A•C Viva Glam campaign, raising more than $140 million by donating 100% of the sale of M•A•C’s Viva Glam products to fight HIV/AIDS.
As is, the support for the fight against HIV is amazing enough. But what’s even more amazing?
Also known as Ryan Ong Palao in real life, Ongina is a 27-year-old proudly born in no less than... the Philippines. Claiming to be a woman trapped in a drag queen’s body, he used his middle name, Ong, and because God didn’t bless him with a certain kind of ’ina, to come up with his drag persona, Ongina. He says his first drag name was Peck-Peck Galore.
Ongina first made waves as a fan favorite on TV reality competition RuPaul’s Drag Race, in which female impersonators battle it out to become America’s next top drag queen. M•A•C Cosmetics was a major sponsor of the show, which is hosted by the original M•A•C Viva Glam spokesmodel and drag superstar, RuPaul.
In an episode that aired in February, Ongina bested the five remaining contestants to win the M•A•C Viva Glam Spokesperson for the Day Challenge, in which the queens starred in screen tests to promote the campaign. More significantly, M•A•C established its AIDS Fund in 1994 to support those affected by HIV/AIDS globally.
And as if simply winning the challenge wasn’t enough, when Ongina won, he broke down in tears on the runway and shocked the judges, his competitors, and the viewing audience with a revelation... he was HIV-positive. O... M... G...
Considering he hadn’t told his HIV-positive status to his parents yet at the time of the challenge, he was able to disclose it to them just weeks before the episode aired. Prior to that, it was his friends that were his support system in dealing with his early issues with HIV.
Diagnosed in April of 2006, he had already been living with HIV for a good two years before debuting on Drag Race. Initially, he had no plans of disclosing his HIV status, not wanting that aspect to be part of the story. But upon winning, he was overcome by emotions, knowing that he had won something that he could represent, and that had helped him and other people stay alive despite HIV. Any funding for HIV helped humanity one way or another, but this was particularly meaningful because he had HIV.
Ongina recalled growing up in the Philippines as Ryan, where he was as educated about drag queens about as well as he was about HIV – that was not at all. But what lack in AIDS awareness growing up in the Philippines had more than been made up for when he moved to the United States at the age of 12, where sex-education classes were offered every academic year from the sixth grade forward. But still, he caught it after an incident of unprotected sex with a stranger.
Recalling the challenge of his disclosure, “I can barely tell my mom when I’m dating. And now I have to tell her I’m living with HIV?” In the weeks before the episode aired, Palao returned to Washington to have the conversation he avoided for nearly three years. When it was finally over, he says, “I am happy I have come out of the HIV closet, because now I can live life without hiding anything. This is me: full, raw Ryan. You can take it or leave it. You either like it or you don’t, but this is exactly what you’ll get.”
With the celebrity status gained as Ongina on Drag Race, Ryan Palao says he is more than happy to act as a spokesperson for HIVers whenever possible. He shares with others the message he presented during the show’s M•A•C Viva Glam Challenge: “Celebrate life!”
“That’s how I live my life. I don’t live any way other than what I know, and that’s to live life to the fullest every day when I wake up. Even before I decided to disclose my status, I wanted to show people that, no matter what happens, life is a celebration!”
Read and see more of Ongina in his official website, Ongina.com, as well as in articles in The Advocate and in HIV Plus Mag.
Sunday, May 17, 2009
It’s odd. The guys who have been interested always seem to be in another continent, another country, or at least another group of islands. It’s like fate is playing a huge joke on me. A joke that’s not really that funny.
But it begs the question: Is it time to consider a long-distance relationship? Layo-genic ba ako?
It’s one thing to be a loner, a whole other thing to be ready to grow old alone, and a completely different story to give up on relationships altogether. The first and the second, I think I’m there. But to give up on relationships is just totally unlike me. I don’t learn my lesson that easily.
It was very unfortunate that the very time I was about to declare myself ready to get back onto the relationship bandwagon, was the same time I found out I was HIV-positive. And this readiness to get into a relationship isn’t like a switch that I can just turn on and off at a moment’s notice. I still continue to long to be in a relationship, in spite of HIV.
And this HIV thing hasn’t been all that bad, admittedly and surprisingly. I mean, yeah, I’ve been turned down, possibly used, led on, told white lies, left hanging, and dropped like a hot potato because of it. Sounds like torture for a pitiful pusit. But that’s all normal in the big scheme of human relationships, I guess. Let’s just say it’s a reassurance that things are still as they always were.
Neither is it the case that HIV is like a small penis that one needs to make up for in terms of other aspects like a huge personality, a mind-blowing performance, a great sense of humor or a big bike. It’s more like... uhm... a missing scrotum, or a third nipple maybe. It’s not usual, but is still something one can live with.
So on the other hand, I have also been fortunate enough to have met people who were willing to look past the pusitness of things. People, HIV-negative ones, who knew that one’s HIV status was just a single facet in the gem of what makes up a person.
So where are these guys? Why am I still single? Well, like I said, everything is still normal. So the relationship potentials of these guys are still under the mercy of chemistry, timing, and, as I’m beginning to realize repeatedly, distance.
I can’t say confidently that I’m good or bad at long-distance relationships. For me, it can go two ways: Absence-makes-the-heart-grow-fonder good, or Out-of-sight-out-of-mind bad. My first boyfriend actually worked as a Hosto in Japan, and I think I saw him off twice before we had our fallout, mostly because of the profession he was in. The reality of it was that I would always be in competition with his clients and customers.
My third boyfriend, meanwhile, needed to go to Canada for a time. And it was his time there that just wore our ties out, as he got really possessive and paranoid. I thought I was sane about it, but I just did not understand why I suddenly needed to always defend myself and pamper his insecurities, when it was his own decision to go. Eventually becoming a daily habit, it just tired me out too much and I broke it off even before he got back.
So I haven’t really had much success in the long-distance relationship arena to speak of. But noticeably, there are some couples who are able to handle relationships across oceans and seas, especially with the technology these days that makes keeping in touch a breeze. I still always thought LDRs were difficult, and unnecessary, considering the so-many-men-so-little-time mentality.
Granted, I still haven’t found it that easy to find guys who are open-minded enough about the HIV thing. They’re there, but it can feel like looking for a needle in a haystack sometimes. A treasure which, when found, carries a huge weight and millions of pogi-points to the guy’s advantage. And no one said the haystack would be easier to find than the needle it hides.
Now – if ever I do consider getting into a long-distance relationship – I want to make sure I’m not just going to do it because I’m kapit-sa-patalim already. It’s should not be like it’s a last ditch effort. I’m not going to settle for anything less. I want to be sure I’m doing it for the right reasons. And with the right person.
But what if? What if the guy for me just really wasn’t fated to be just steps, a jeepney-ride, or a bus-ride away? What if I wasn’t meant to have proximity with Mr. Right at my advantage? Am I indeed ready for a long-distance relationship? Layo-genic nga ba ako?
Saturday, May 16, 2009
While chatting last week with a trusted friend who was aware of my HIV status, I was again reminded how near I may have always been to HIV and AIDS. Apparently, someone who I knew, who had passed away less than a year after we had last met, died with it.
This had been a guy who I had met a couple of times and had sex with, and although the conditions of our encounters at the time did not include my knowing that I may have been HIV-positive myself, I’m 100% sure we stuck to safer sex. I would still not consider him as one of the possible sources of my own infection.
So was I shocked? Not really. But I never had a clue. I was told he had been diagnosed late and that only close family members and friends knew, but considering that at some point in time, we had each probably known of our HIV-statuses and kept it secret from each other, it could’ve been an opportunity to support a fellow-pusit, not to mention an old friend.
And as May 17th approaches, I will think about our friend. May 17th is International AIDS Candlelight Memorial Day.
The International AIDS Candlelight Memorial aims to honor and support those who have been affected in some way by the global HIV/AIDS pandemic, and fulfill the vision for a world free of AIDS. It is a program of the Global Health Council, which is touted to be one of the oldest and largest grassroots mobilization campaigns for HIV and AIDS awareness in the world.
Started in 1983, the Candlelight Memorial takes place every third Sunday in May and is led by a coalition of some 1,200 community organizations in 115 countries hosting local memorials that honor the lost and raise social consciousness about the disease. I wonder who the leading organization here in the Philippines is. Why haven’t I ever heard of this event in the country before? Hmm...
Memorials are said to range from small community vigils to multi-day national commemorations. In addition to remembrance, many coordinating organizations use the Candlelight Memorial as an opportunity to promote local AIDS services, encourage education and community dialogue, and advocate for the advancement of public policy. Memorials often include lighting of candles, marches, speeches, dramatic performances, spiritual and cultural rituals, and a safe space for interaction and community engagement.
With 33 million people living with HIV today, the Candlelight Memorial is said to serve as an important intervention for global solidarity, breaking down barriers, and giving hope to new generations.
The goals of the Candlelight Memorial are to commemorate and celebrate the lives of those lost and affected by AIDS, to promote respect and inclusiveness, and give a voice to those affected by the virus, particularly women and children, to demonstrate the leadership of civil society and its critical partnership with government in the fight against the disease, to serve as an occasion for community dialogue, services and education, sharing of best practices, commitment, and creative expression, and to advance public policy addressing AIDS, and related health and social conditions, at all levels of government. Hmm, attention local HIV/AIDS NGOs... these do sound like great goals, don’t they?
The Candlelight Memorial program is guided by the core values of dignity, diversity, transparency, global solidarity, and professional and personal integrity. Neat, huh?
So with that, don’t light a candle for me just yet. I’m still alive and kicking. I think the most ultimate purpose of this Candlelight Memorial, more than commemorating losses, would be to raise HIV awareness in the general population. It’s time to stop sweeping HIV under the rug. Be afraid if you have to, if that will keep you safe... but more importantly, be aware. Light a candle for that.
Read more about the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial and light a candle online at their website, www.candlelightmemorial.org.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
I'm stressed out. I’m anxious. I’m uneasy. I feel faint. I’m in distress.
I’m distrubed. I'm paranoid.
I'm scared. I’m really scared.
Almost a year ago, I received an e-mail from a couple of my friends from back in college, saying that they were planning to get married a year from then. Of course, that didn’t necessarily mean that I had almost a year to prepare for it. That just meant I had almost a year to not think about it.
These were people who I hadn’t seen for years and years and years. They were actually some people who I’d Left Behind because of that little incident of my disclosure of my sexual preference to someone I regarded as my friend, who in turn became the key to disclosing my secret to the world. As I said before, I was no longer interested in knowing who thought what about me. So it was easy to say goodbye. To everyone.
And then last week came. It was Sunday, and I was busy not feeling well at home. Suddenly, a knock at the gate. And then a voice calling my name. Who could it be? I wasn’t expecting anyone. So I dragged my ass out the door to brave the rain and see who it was. Good heavens. Boo!
It was her. The bride-to-be. Groom-to-be was apparently waiting in the car, and they’d just passed by to drop their wedding invitation off. Wow, special. Shit, I thought they’d forgotten about me. I honestly hoped they’d forgotten about me.
They’d apparently been trying to access me through several means. I’d changed my mobile number some years ago, so that was out of the question. I don’t know why they didn’t know my e-mail address, but it was a blessing. But Friendster was a bullet I just could not avoid.
Friendster always scared me because it would make me easy to find. To some, that’s a good thing, but to me, I worried more that it would be harder to hide from people by whom I didn’t want to be found. And now, the very reason it took me a while to even begin on Friendster was happening. Boo!
So... they found me. And in a serious lapse of judgment, I gave my e-mail address and mobile number. And with that, it just snowballed.
I don’t have a Barong Tagalog. I don’t have nice shoes. I don’t know how I’ll get to Tagaytay alone. I might have other plans. I still might not be feeling well. I can’t leave my mom home alone. My aunt is in the hospital. I have more important things to do. Hell, I might even say I don’t really want to see them again. See, I already have every excuse in the book.
Now, I’m trying to dodge every effort they’re making to solicit further responses from me. I really don’t want to go. There’s a reason why I haven’t seen them for almost ten years. There’s a reason why I haven’t even been trying. That reason was that I had a secret. And now, I have a newer and an even bigger one. Boo!
I don’t need their sympathy or anything. Nor will I need the paranoia that may stem from reviving broken ties. I’ve been okay the past ten years without them, why not another ten?
Granted, I don’t necessarily have to disclose anything to them. But I can only imagine how draining it will be to even try to put together plausible stories as to what I’ve been up to for the past ten years, let alone the past year. Hell, even right now, this early, it’s draining already.
So needless to say, just a week to go before the event, I am NOT excited. It just feels is as if I’m being haunted by ghosts from the past. Ghosts that, for now, I’m hell-bent on keeping in the past. Boo!
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
The thought of disclosing my HIV status to my family honestly never leaves my mind. I put it aside at times – actually, most of the time – but it’s there. On one hand, it scares me that they might not care enough. But on the other hand, what scares me even more is the possibility of drowning in attention. Sigh. Weather-weather lang.
Timing is critical. When in good times, a disclosure like that might seem like I’m raining on someone’s parade. I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade. When in bad times, it might seem like I’m stealing someone’s thunder. I would never dream of stealing anyone’s thunder. Weather-weather.
Lately there has been a lot going on with the family.
An aunt of mine – my dad’s youngest sister – died suddenly earlier this year. It wasn’t too devastating for me because she had been living abroad ever since, but needless to say it was surprising. She was 59, just a year older than my dad was when he died.
Just this month, all of my dad’s other siblings came back to the country to lay her ashes to rest. They, along with my mom, all took the trip back to the province for the weekend to get things done. I chose not to go. But I couldn’t help imagining how things would’ve gone if I used this rare opportunity of having them all in one place to disclose my secret. Hmm.
I imagine my deceased aunt staring down at me saying Tsk, tsk, tsk... Attention whore! This is my day... my sunshine! Go get your own! So with that, I wasn’t regretting not taking that opportunity.
Last week, when both my mom’s and my own birthdays were, I again thought if that was my good timing. Happy days supposedly, right? But I flashed back to ten years ago, when I admitted my homosexuality to my parents on my 21st birthday. One of the first things my mom managed to say through her sobs was Is this your birthday gift to me? I could’ve been a total ass and said No, this is MY birthday gift to myself, but of course, I wasn't and I didn’t.
Now, considering finding out someone is gay is nothing compared to finding out he has HIV, I just don’t think disclosing my HIV status anywhere close to her birthday will solicit any less negative thoughts than ten years ago. I don’t want to be raining on her parade... again.
This week, it was my mom’s side of the family. Another aunt of mine – my mom’s sister and my godmother if I’m not mistaken – underwent a hysterectomy. Yesterday, news came in that they had found more malignant tumors, and I think she’ll be needing to undergo chemotherapy after. Still no final word on whether everything went well.
Now this aunt may be my favorite, because I don’t remember any time that I felt inferior in her eyes. I know I’m not perfect, but I always felt she focused on what I had than what I didn’t. It was just in her personality to be that way. And so I shouldn’t be wondering why I’m tearing up while I’m writing this, should I?
Naturally, everyone in the family was ready to be at her side. So then I wondered, would this have made a good opportunity to disclose my own misfortune? Again, not immediately a great idea. She needs all the sympathy right now, and I’m just not going to ruin that for her. I’m not stealing her thunder.
Kuya Kim: Laging tatandaan na ang buhay ay weather-weather lang.
And so... I’m left absolutely clueless again with this timing thing. My disclosure of my HIV status has the potential to make good days bad, and bad days worse. Anytime and everytime seems not to be the right time. It’s always someone’s sunshine, someone’s rain, someone’s thunder. I wonder when I’ll find my own weather. Whenever it may be, I just hope it won’t be too late.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
I haven’t been feeling well the past few days.
It’s odd that it just so happened to be on the one weekend that I was just home resting. I’m not sure if the wear and tear on my body just really caught up with me or what.
But. I’m. Sick.
Last week, I think the worst thing that I did was work-related, when I needed to commute from Ortigas to Manila and back just as Emong poured his heart out. I did have an umbrella with me, but it was the kind of rain laden with winds that just rendered an umbrella practically useless.
So it was chilly outside. And I was wet. When I got to my destination in Manila, they were all cooped up inside the room. And with no ventilation, and coming from a five-minute walk, I just began to sweat. Like a pig.
It’s not that I don’t sweat. I’m so used to sweating in fact, that I always have a little towel up my back, living up to the old wives’ tale that sweat drying on your back can make you sick. I just think I have nothing to lose by following such a myth.
So with that, I was wet with rain and sweat, and they were nice enough to point an electric fan at me so I’d cool down and dry up. Something that, in retrospect, may not have been such a brilliant move.
So was that to blame? I don’t really know.
Basta, on Sunday, I woke up with a headache and a fever. I was coughing, or more like barking, and I actually could hardly talk. My mom had wanted me to go with her to the mall to shop for some clothes, but I just couldn’t. I wanted to give in to her every whim for Mothers' Day, but I just wasn’t up for it.
I was hoping it would be over in a day, but of course, I’m not that lucky. I’ve been sleeping with two blankets for the past two evenings, and hardly breaking a sweat, except after drinking my dose of Paracetamol. It’s only when I’m sick that I can be sosy enough not to sweat.
Okay, okay, I self-medicated. It’s part of my hoping that this is nothing other than a simple flu. But I think this has been the worst that I’ve felt since finding out I was poz, other than the time I had an allergic reaction to my ARVs.
I’ve still been reporting to work for the past two days. I’ve just needed to finish some urgent stuff. I’m not sure if anyone is noticing that I’m under the weather, but I’m sure I appear quieter and less personable than usual. I’m moving more slowly as well, mostly because my head hurts.
I’ve been trying to sneak in naps during my trips to and from the office. It’s been tough, but I’ve been at least trying to rest my eyes. I have, though, been able to take a half-an-hour nap after lunch yesterday. I think it helped. And as of yesterday, I’ve been able to sleep an extra hour-and-a-half, going beddy-bye as early as 8:30 in the evening. I still had the chills, though.
I’ve been feeling a bit better today. Been able to get some phlegm moving as of this morning. I know. Eeew. But minus that diri-factor, I’ll be honest enough to say it feels good and I think it helps. I want to get better as soon as possible... well, who wouldn’t... so I’m considering taking some days off this week to rest. Just as soon as I get everything I need done, done.
And with Positivism calling for a celebration of sorts, I doubt if I’ll be able to make it out this Friday night for any gimmick whatsoever if I’m still feeling any bit under the weather. It might be a bit of a sacrifice, but I wouldn’t want to put any other pusits who make it in jeopardy. We’ll see how things go. Hopefully, hopefully, hopefully...
Sunday, May 10, 2009
My birthday this year has dragged on for more than the twenty-four hours that it was supposed to and has been anything but expected.
Is that a good thing? Is that a bad thing? I don’t know. But it’s been a darn unusual thing.
My whole life, I don’t really recall any year that it was hugely celebrated. Blame my memory or whatever, but my only recollection of a birthday as a child stems from a picture of me, in front of a cake, all dressed up in a Spiderman costume. I looked pretty happy in that picture.
Another factor could be that my birthday fell just two days after my mom’s and dad’s birthdays, so it was always a collective celebration, usually just pasta and fried chicken on the nearest weekend. Not too bad.
In school, my birthday was never celebrated, primarily due to the fact that my birthday falls right smack in the middle of summer vacation. Even now, at work, it’s never been a big deal. I’m always saved by what’s called Birthday Leave. Plus, considering I’m usually the one who makes the personalized birthday cards, it’s just pointless, and not to mention pathetic, to make one for myself.
I’m not sure which came first – that I felt my birthday was always too small of a deal, or that I never liked making a big deal out of it. I’ve gone as far as disappear for the duration of my birthdays before. I remember the worst I’ve done is check into a motel alone for the day, watch hour after hour of porn, and just jerk off until I no longer could. What can I say? I’m easy to please.
Last year, though, may have been the most memorable ever, as I spent the day having vials and vials of blood extracted from my poor veins. Whoopee. Ngarrr. I made the conscious effort for this year to not be that bad.
This year may just have made up for my lifetime’s worth birthdays. It of course started with my I-Hate-Suprises moment Sunday night. Being with friends to celebrate was... uhm... different. Especially considering I didn’t know it was a celebration to begin with.
On the eve of my birthday, I agreed to meet up with a friend in Greenhills for a dinner of my favorites – pasta and pizza. Capped off with chismisan to the max, first-name-basis flirting with the waiter and a liter of long island iced tea, my first taste ever, ahh, heavenly.
From there, we watched Wolverine at one of the Promenade cinemas, with no less than Sharon Cuneta! Well, of course, Sharon didn’t know who the hell we were. We just happened to be in the same movie house, that’s all. It was just funny how Sharon being there seemed to excite my friend even more that seeing Hugh Jackman practically naked.
Wednesday, my birthday itself, started off shortly past midnight as I got greeted via text by a new friend who’s been reading this blog. Actually, it was more that just a greeting, as we... uhm... sort of had... uhm... sex. Gasp! Well, actually, what started out as an innocent phone conversation turned explicit and... well, you know the rest. It was the safest sex there is, without even needing to unroll a rubber over the phone. Sexy, safe and fun. Now that was a hell of a birthday gift.
The rest of the day was spent at home, as usual, sleeping, channel surfing, happily munching on left-over slices of pizza and chocolate mousse. Mababaw lang ako, baket ba?
Friends were a huge part of that day as well. Most of my BFFs were a bit down in the dumps that day, which is really no problem for me. It wasn’t that I was happy that they were sad, but rather, I was happy that I could be there to help ease the burden, or at least try to. I know I’ll sound like such a schmuck if I say that making loved ones happy makes me happy. But that’s the truth.
As expected, I got birthday greetings galore – from relatives, from former classmates, from online friends, from an ex-boyfriend, from a couple of my old fuck buddies, and even from some fubus and friends overseas! I usually despise people making such a big deal about my birthday, but I know this year was different... I was just thankful.
Even until the days following, my birthday dragged on. The owner of the company I work for sent me a text greeting, and even took time to get me a gift. And take note, this is a seventy-plus year old lady, with the help of her fifty-plus year old buddy, so I was a bit surprised.
And Friday night, I got what I consider my ultimate gift, as Positivism’s second issue went live. Paki nyo? Assuming ako eh! I was amazed, giddy, and anxious all the same time.
So truly, this was a birthday week to remember. The worst part may have been my mom wondering why I was on leave from work, and taking a full minute to realize that it was my birthday. But it was fine, no harm done. The day wasn’t perfect, but I didn’t need it to be. It was a day – and a year – that was just more that I could have ever asked for. The year of life was already a gift. And that just made it a very Happy Birthday.
Friday, May 08, 2009
Monday, May 04, 2009
The weekend was crazy. Crazy! Absolutely crazy!
I had gotten a text from one of my BFFs, JohnStanley, last week. Hey, clear your Sunday night, akin na yun, ha. Bawal tumanggi. =) First of all, it wasn’t like I had any excuse, or any other plans really. Second, I liked things being planned ahead, so this was great. And lastly, just the way that it was said was such a turn on for the submissive like me. I could have easily answered, Yes, master! or Take me! Take me! Oi... I need a life, don’t I?
What’s there is? Anong meron? I replied. Wala lang, dinner with friends, was what I got back. Hmm, okay. I assumed it was because of JohnStanley’s recent birthday. With my One Fine Day entries fresh in mind, I was told I could bring L if I wanted to. Hahaha. If only he was in town, I would. I asked if he could invite my other BFF instead, RubyPurple. He said he would indeed like to meet his fellow zoomie. Great.
It was really turning out to be a perfect weekend already, as my mom had gone out of town for an aunt’s funeral, and I was lucky enough to weasel my way out of it. So I was left home alone most of the long weekend to enjoy my silence and solitude.
Arriving promptly at our meeting place, zoom-zoom was already waiting out front. I hopped into the back as he introduced me to his friend in the passenger seat. I remember him saying something about a surprise. Surprise?! Panic. He had to be kidding, right? JohnStanley asked me who else I was expecting to see there. I really had no idea, nor given it any thought. He let slip that RubyPurple had confirmed. Hmm, come to think of it, she never told me she was going. So was that the surprise?
It was a short drive to Eastwood as we badgered each other about our respective emo moments lately. With most of what’s been happening already laid out in this blog, there wasn’t much to tell. Getting there before 7:00 pm, RubyPurple was already inside. Introductions all around, catching up ensued. Shortly, TristanTales and TurismoBoi arrived. Oddly enough, TristanTales greeted me with a Happy Birthday, which was followed by a scolding from JohnStanley for ruining the surprise. Ngarrr. What was this about?
Have I told you how I hate surprises? I pride myself for my composure and my poise, and not knowing what’s going to happen exposes me to the risk of losing them. Ngarrr.
Dinner was a fiesta of sisig, pata and inihaw na... Gasp!... pusit. Hahaha, of course, JohnStanley could not let that joke pass. Fine, fine. But throughout, we hardly fell silent, as we talked about everything from worklife, familylife, lovelife, bloglife, sexlife, nightlife, plantlife and anything-else-life in between. Finally, the real gal in the group got a whiff of how discreet guys are together. Yes, I’m talking about RubyPurple. And she certainly kept up. I hope she wasn’t traumatized too badly. Hehehe.
At one point after dinner, I did notice RubyPurple call a waitress and whisper something to her. I brushed it off, but shortly found out. With a cake in hand and candle lit, I saw all the waiters and waitresses, if I’m not mistaken, coming up the flight of stairs. You know how restos like this have the habit of making a scene when it’s a customer’s birthday? It was not my place to assume, but I was terrified. I tried to look around for who it was, but it was too late. They stopped at our table and laid the cake out in front of me. Happy Birthday, ______, I read on the cake.
Throughout their bad song, I don’t know what kind of face exactly I had on. I wanted to faint. I wanted to cry. I was trying to smile. I was in panic. I may have blushed, if I’m capable of that. I could've done a Hatton, even. But I tried hard to can my emotions and keep my composure. I knew how bad it was when, probably because of nerves, I dropped one of my pills as I was about to drink my ARVs. Good thing I didn’t drop it into the icing on the cake.
Ngarrr. Connivance. Conspiracy. No wonder RubyPurple just happened to ask me some days before what my favorite cake was. And I had said chocolate mousse, indeed. Asked to make a wish before blowing the candle out, I was dumbfounded again. I think my mind stopped several minutes before. I just said Thank You in my head. That’s all I came up with, as I snuffed the flame out. This evening was already more than I could wish for.
I’d never ever... ever... had a surprise birthday celebration in my life. Ever. And to think these people thought I was worthy of one was extremely, extremely touching. After we went our separate ways thanks to our zoomies, I reached home shortly before midnight. Finally alone, I just needed a minute to just sit down and space out. And all the canned emotions just broke loose. I sobbed like a child.
I was touched. I was honored. I was flattered. I appreciated the effort they took to put this thing together.
Thank you RubyPurple, JohnStanley, TristanTales, TurismoBoi, and new guy. Thank you for the friendship. Thank you for the advanced birthday surprise. Thank you for the cake. Thank you for the gift. And thanks to the Po-Po-Po-Poker Faces they’ve been hiding behind all this time, I now baptize RubyPurple and JohnStanley respectively as Lady Gaga and... hmm, Boy Gago? Hehehe.
I still hate surprises. Please don’t do that again. Ngarrr. But, THANK YOU.
Sunday, May 03, 2009
This weekend, I was lazing around watching television when I chanced upon a medical TV show on one of the UHF channels that I very seldom surf through.
Oddly enough, it left me thinking whether I should be pissed or not. Nope, nope, nope. Nothing about HIV on this show. What then?
Hosted by a Doc Bien, UNTV’s Doc on TV was featuring, yet again, the now infamous Swine Flu. Compared to how fast the issue of Swine Flu has risen in the news, I realize how HIV has barely made a ripple.
Now officially called the Influenza A H1N1 thanks to the fact that it has been established to be transmissible from one human to another, I’ve been hearing about it on the news daily for the past week or so now. And deadly as this new virus can get, should I be scared considering I have HIV?
Well, considering that it is an air-borne virus, everyone who shares the air with someone infected can be susceptible. But as discussed on the show, your immune system can put up somewhat of a fight for you. So for us, the immuno-compromised, it may be assumed that more care be taken.
According to their resource person from the Department of Health, a certain Dr. Lyndon, the Influenza A H1N1 virus was a twist of fate wrought about by an interaction among the swine, avian and human strains of flu. Is Mother Nature angry or what?
Initially, I heard it was spreading around Mexico and parts of the United States. So we Filipinos should have felt safe. I was supposedly being protected by huge bodies of water that separate us from these places. But that would be too simple.
As of latest news, countries in Europe such as Switzerland and the Netherlands have seen the first Influenze A H1N1 virus carriers in their own territories, and more alarmingly, it’s also been discovered around Asia, such as in Hong Kong and South Korea. With 615 reported infections world-wide to date, feel free to insert the Jaws-type music here. It’s coming. It’s coming.
I had some questions in mind, all of which they were able to answer on this show.
Is there some way to spot someone who has it? Unless you’re paranoid enough to have one of those thermal cameras like those they have at airports, there are no visible symptoms. And considering that it has the exact same symptoms as the common flu, it's difficult to tell.
Is there a vaccine against this new strain of influenza? No, there remains none to date. Ordinary flu vaccines are reformulated annually to fight the current strain of human flu. It does nothing against the Influenza A H1N1 virus.
Is there some medication against it? Certainly, the DOH is prepared to treat Influenza A H1N1 infections. But although it is possible to start a prophylaxis against it in cases of exposure, preventive medication is not randomly advised because of the risk of developing a resistant strain.
Are there any precautions that can be taken? Wearing a mask protects both the person who is wearing is and the rest of the world around him or her, but is not, at this point, deemed a necessity by the DOH resource person. Everyone should just cover their mouths when they cough or sneeze, and maybe less handshaking and beso-beso.
For any concerns with Influenza A H1N1 infections, you can visit your nearest health center. Or call the Department of Health at (+632) 743-8301, or their hotline specific for Influenza A H1N1 concerns at (+632) 711-1001 or 711-1002.
Oh wait, should I be pissed? Well, certainly, this Influenza A H1N1 virus has gotten more media mileage in weeks, than my beloved Human Immunodeficiency one has in decades. But considering how easily transmissible it is, plus how bad the stigma connected to the Influenza A H1N1 virus is, now targeted against Mexicans, pigs, and even slabs of pork lying innocently in the frozen food sections, I wouldn’t trade in my HIV so readily.
So please, don’t judge the pig. Kawawa naman. He is not my brother.