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, January 31, 2010

TV Patrolled

It was the evening of Wednesday, January 27th. I was having dinner with one of my partners for a new little business venture, when I got a text from a friend. He was a friend from years ago, with whom my friendship is less tangible than the usual. We have met a couple of times before, but we barely keep in touch. But we’re close enough that I’ve been able to disclose my HIV status to him. Nope, he was just a friend, not a fuck buddy.

“Friend, can I call you?” The last time I got a message like that from him was when he needed to ask about tulo and STDs, worried that he and his partner caught something. So honestly, I was a bit worried again this time. I took his call.

He was in the hospital. Nope, nothing I had expected, just tonsillitis. And he was doing okay. So what was up? Apparently, the problem was that his mom had watched something on the news that evening that prompted her to think and insinuate that my friend had HIV. My friend in turn got paranoid, even though he had just tested negative just this first week of January.

I had to remind him and explain again that symptoms really can’t be relied upon when it comes to HIV. And I reiterated that getting tested was the only way to know for sure whether or not someone is infected with the virus. And with that, he calmed down.

My friend's response was typical. Partida, he knew about HIV before pa. I wasn’t planning on writing about it since I didn’t watch the news myself. But fortunately, or unfortunately, I found the news clip on the web. Be prepared. Watch it yourself.

Okay. I’ve actually met the two PGH doctors personally, and actually think they’re okay. But based on the report itself, I was disappointed. Just a number of points I’d like to make.

First point:
Fine, be alarmed that your HIV cases doubled in just ten months or something. But put it in proper perspective. It’s not really that more people are getting infected. Just that more people are finding out that they are. And that’s a good thing. Could the increase in your HIV cases just be because more people are getting tested? If you don’t want the number of cases to increase, then stop testing people. I think it’s beyond positivity to be thankful that more people are getting tested.

Second point:
No need to point out which careers or professions have been trendily diagnosed with HIV. It’s an unfair and useless generalization, because anyone of any profession who takes the risk should get tested. Could it just be that it is people from these professions who are smart enough to get tested? You should worry that such sweeping generalizations will give people a false sense of security to think, “Ah, I’m not a call center agent, so I probably don’t have HIV.” Again, HIV has absolutely no respect for age, gender, sexual orientation, social class, education, or profession. A risk is a risk. Just go get tested.

Third point:
Internet aiding the spread of HIV? Poor, poor internet. Could it be possible that because sex is such a taboo for Filipinos, the only place to get information on sex is on the internet, where those who are curious about it are left to their own capacities to absorb the information, unguided by those who should know better? I have three words: SEX EDUCATION NOW. If you can blame the internet, then I blame the church, the prudes, and censorship in all forms.

Fourth point:
The symptoms. HIV symptoms?! Is it true that these so-called symptoms may still appear even without HIV? And is it true that not all who have HIV have these symptoms? DOH statistics as of latest show that of those diagnosed annually since 2004, over 80% each year are actually asymptomatic. Asymptomatic… ergo sans of symptoms. To me, 80% means your symptoms list is crap. The only way to know your HIV status is to get tested. No need to wait for the so-called symptoms... by that time, it may be too late.

Fifth point:
The possibility of 20,000 HIV-positive Filipinos by 2020? Do you mean 20,000 confirmed? Could there be a total of 20,000 as of today already HIV-positive including those who do not know their HIV-status? And is it possible that they do not know because they haven’t gotten tested, thanks to believing all the generalizations and thinking they are far from the virus?

So there. Just some questions that need to be answered. Some have been pleased about the coverage despite the misinformation, just because the topic is being discussed. They say it encourages people to think. But when misinformation is seemingly endorsed by doctors, the Philippine General Hospital, and the Department of Health itself, is it not more possible that people will take the information at face value and believe everything that is said? Should we not and can we not demand more accurate information?

More reports have been shown and more has been said since that day, but just this one report has been enough to deserve utmost attention. One big sigh. I’ve always said that I’m a true-blue Kapamilya. But right now, I’m disappointed. Tsk, tsk, tsk.


Ming Meows said...

ang nakakalungkot lang, walang promotion ng paggamit ng condom.

Gram Math said...

what is the reaction of the church regarding this?
this should be the best time for them to think about sex education.

E said...

you know bitch, you think we made a big step forward on giving awareness then something like this happens and people (Our people-PLWH) starts jumping with joy and start patting themselves at the back, they don't realize that the community actually made 10 steps backward.

You are right, some people is pointing out that having it publicized is more than enough, but then again they do not realize the impact of that wrong information...sabi nga nila, "madaming namamatay sa malaking akala" (alot of people died because of wrong information)

The sad part is, these people are on our side but gets me questioning, if we are on the same side, then how can you even like this crap report?! If you like this report, then you promote wrong information as long as its talked about?!

Bryan Anthony said...

poor poor internet indeed... i guess the haitian quake is www's fault too

Trese said...

biased statistics were shown. sino ba gumawa ng research na ito ng mabatukan.

i don't like local news. always one sided.

Anonymous said...

I wasn't able to watch the airing but took the time to view it in youtube. Oh, boy, it wasn't just a single report. They actually made a series out of it ending with an interview with a pozzie call center agent.

I'm drafting a position paper/note that I plan to post in my FB to dispel a lot of misleading points in their coverage.

I'm in the BPo industry and it bothered me that they were singling out our sector. what for? to elicit controversy? Fuck them.

I've checked the sites of DOH and PNAC and saw their published HIv-AIDS reports and none of them showed segmentation based on profession; essentially, doing so is nil. Where the hell did they get that idea? It's not the profession but the lifestyle.

The always-available-for-interview sociologist josephine aguilar-placido even attributed the alleged call center trend to the graveyard shift saying that it's very prone to temptation. We work at night. Are we tempted to have sex while working? hell no! If she only knows how brightly lit call center operation floors are. How in the world will sexual tension arise when we are dealing with screaming callers most of the time? No one i know has that kind of fetish.

TV Patrol World. So disappointing.

--Contact Center Pro

Anonymous said...

I remember something they used to teach us when I was a kid back in baptist church. Going to clubs and movie theaters are bad because it's dark. That's about as smart as the conclusion that the internet is the cause why young people are having casual sex at an early age. Can we go back to basics and talk about parenting? The problem these days is that parent rarely talk to their kids and when they do it's usually never a dialogue but rather a litany of do this or else. Information is never a bad thing. Just like truth is as well. It may hurt at the beginning. After all, I personally think we're going through a revolution here. There's a great free-flow of information that's happening. Old conventions are being reevaluated and scrutinized. It's a slow process. It might even take decades to get a good handle on this new media, but the real truth is, I think the internet is more of a step forward than a step back.

tim said...

Oh my God.. this is really hilarious! and yeah it is an epidemic, oh my God.. i need to control my self in this kind of activity.. Nakaktakot na..