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.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Test: Taking Two

March 31, 2010. The last day of March. The end of the first quarter of the year. The 90th day of the year, 91st for leap years. The birthday of such famed personalities as father of modern philosophy Rene Descartes, civil rights activist Cesar Chavez, former United States vice-president Al Gore, and Star Wars’ Obi-Wan Kenobi actor, Ewan McGregor.

But for me, March 31st has, in recent years, taken on a new meaning.

Flashback to two years ago. I remember it was a Monday. A regular working day supposedly. But waking up early, I was not going my usual route to Ortigas for work. I took a ride to the Manila area. It’s not easy to believe that it’s already been two years. It was exactly two years ago, on the fateful day of March 31, 2008, that I had finally gone to get tested for HIV. It was to be my first... and my last.

I remember how much of a fool I made of myself just getting tested. I mean, I had been wanting to get tested for a while already. Take note, I wanted to get tested. It never occurred to me that I needed to get tested. I had finally decided to get tested maybe a couple of weeks before. I was actually outside the gate of the Social Hygiene Clinic already the week before.

Yep, you read it right. I was just outside the gate. I never made it inside the week before. My paranoia got to me. I mean I got my feet to take me to Manila, but couldn’t get past all my fears enough to take myself up those final few steps to the second floor to actually get tested. So I chickened out and just headed off instead. Hehehe.

I’m not ashamed to admit that I chickened out. It was all about my being scared.

I don’t really think I was thinking along the lines of “What if I test positive for HIV?” I think I knew already that I wasn’t exactly going to get the results right away. And I definitely wasn’t thinking that far ahead.

It was more about my reputation. I mean, yeah, I knew within myself that my rePUTAtion wasn’t going to be damaged that much. But I know my worries included “What are they going to think of me?”, “What if they judge me?”, and “Will getting tested make me less of a person in the eyes of others?”

Based on other people’s reactions to getting tested, I think I’m pretty normal to have thought that way. Even now that I know a lot about HIV, I know it’s still the normal way for Filipinos to react. But I also know that it’s sad.

It’s sad that one has to feel that tortured just getting tested for HIV. It’s sad that we live in a culture that fosters that kind of judgment against people who are just concerned for their health. It’s sad that it takes so much effort to realize that getting tested is a good thing, both for yourself and for others.

Whenever I hear of people who have gotten tested or have at least decided to get tested, I always tell them that they should be proud of themselves. Because the truth is, not everyone is brave enough to do it.

And when I hear of people who know they need to but are too afraid to get tested, I just think they should be told that if they were brave enough to take the risk, then they should just suck it up and be equally brave enough to get tested. I kind of wish someone hammered that point into my head two years ago.

Wow. Two years. It doesn’t really seem that long ago. Two years has brought about a lot of change. Now, there already are Rapid HIV Tests in the country, which can give you results in no more than an hour. Back in 2008, I needed to wait over two weeks for my results.

Back then, I had no one to go through the experience with nor did I know who to approach. The traditional NGOs, you couldn’t find or get in touch with. I’m glad I took a chance on the Social Hygiene Clinic in Manila. Now, it’s so refreshing to see even my HIV-positive friends have taken on the chance to convince and accompany friends and even strangers to get tested. Baby steps, but a start nonetheless.

And bloggers? Whereas before, I couldn’t even connect myself to this blog because the HIV NGOs themselves were making it heard that they were against blogging openly about living with HIV. Why? I don’t know. Well, now there are already over 20 in my Poz Posse blog list... need I say more? Well, I don’t remember getting any apologies.

Okay, I’ve rambled. Two years since getting tested. I’m glad I did it. It was to be a huge milestone whichever way the ball rolled. I just happened to turn out HIV-positive, but it ain’t all that bad. I’m still alive and kicking, right?!

And actually, as we speak, a team of counselors and medical personnel is on the way to Puerto Galera to conduct voluntary counseling and testing there. And that it was spearheaded by someone who is not HIV-positive is the amazing thing. Times really are a-changing.

So if you’re in Puerto Galera, this Holy Week, you might want to think about getting counseled and tested for HIV. Just look for the TAKE THE TEST booth on White Beach itself. It’s totally free, and totally for you. Two years ago, I did it. And I have no regrets at all about it. Do it for yourself, too. Take the Test.


Saturday, March 27, 2010

Red Letter Day

I got an offline YM message last week. Someone who'd stumbled onto this blog, asking if I would like to support an HIV awareness campaign. Well, well, well. I asked what exactly it was going to be. It sounded interesting. I was pretty much game. I got the formal written invite sent via e-mail. I was really just after the schedule, the venue, who was organizing it, who was behind it, and that sort of stuff. The letter revealed more details on the event, some of which stopped me in my tracks.

Organized by Scribble Works Productions with Christine in charge, the event was entitled Red Letter Day: HIV/AIDS Awareness Event. Sponsored by Victoria Court and Watering Hole, in cooperation with Scribble Works Productions, FHM, Premiere Condoms, EZ Lube, and Enduranz Capsules, the event was to be held in Watering Hole, a restobar in Shangri-la Plaza Mall. Geez it's been more than a decade I think since I had last been inside Watering Hole. It took this little virus to bring me back there.

Red Letter Day was to feature band performances and mini-talks by HIV/AIDS advocates and representatives of the DOH, PNAC, UNAIDS and the like. There was also going to be a photoshoot of attendees and advocates, a sort of Freedom-From-The-Virus declaration wall, where photos of supporters of the campaign would be installed and viewed. Whoa. Hold your horses.

A photoshoot?! Pictures?! Memories to last a lifetime?! Wait a minute. I mean I've done photoshoots in my lifetime, heaven knows how far I've gone and how much I've shown... or how little I haven't shown for that matter. But a photoshoot of myself as someone identified as living with HIV has not happened as of the moment. But okay, I pushed my envelope.

Expecting the organizers to rethink considering me among their roster, I pointed out that I'm not entirely "out" just yet. I asked what the concept of the photoshoot would be. All I got was "black and white". Okay... So I fielded another question. Would the photographer be able to work with his concept if I were to specify that I remain unrecognizable to some extent in the photo? I remember even dropping suggestions like using shadows or non-frontal angles that could put some mystery to who I am exactly. It took a few minutes for them to answer.

I thought I was off the hook. Seriously. I mean I'd be willing to support the event, but pictures just might be out of the question. But then... Yes, we could work with that! Oh. They even thought that would make their photowall more interesting. Okay... Hmmm.

So there. It was set. Friday, I was to go for the shoot. It was scheduled from 3:00 to 7:00 pm, not exactly convenient for my work schedule. I actually thought I wasn't going to make it. I mean, as much as I would like to get out of it, I was seriously trying to make it. At 7:00 pm I wasn't even there yet, and was actually waiting for them to tell me they couldn't wait anymore. But nooooo... They were going to wait. So much for my easy way out.

So getting there, I finally met Christine, a.k.a. Nini, and saw Shola and Greenman. The photographer was semi-packed-up already. But after being identifies as he's-the-one-I-mentioned-who-would-need-a-mysterious-photo-treatment, the photographer was obviously up to the challenge. I didn't exactly want to stifle the guy's style with my limitations, so I gave my trust to him. He did some test shots with his assistant, and soon I found myself in front of the camera, taking shot after shot after shot.

I was nervous to say the least. But only because I still hate attention. I know I was sweating to my scalp to some extent, but I got through it. It wasn't as bad as I'd expected. Adbucted by darkness. Those were the words that the photographer used to describe his treatment of my photos. He did reassure me after, which I was fine with. I'm a very trusting person, sometimes to a fault. So with that, the photoshoot was done.

The following week, I got word from Christine that she'd be sending me a couple of shots to choose from and approve. Luckily, internet was down at that exact moment, so I actually had to toss out the trust again and tell her to just make the choice herself. Yes, I trusted her. And upon verification later on, her choice was indeed the same I would've made. Coolio.

Yesterday, Friday again, Red Letter Day was set at Watering Hole. I asked BFF to tag along with me. We had dinner and headed to the venue perfectly and fashionably late.

Nice. Oh, but Shola, Greenman, BFF and I weren't the only HIV-positives in the house. By the end of the evening... hmmm should I give hints? Well, let's just say there were more positives there than you could count on your fingers. Hehe.

So anyway, how was the event itself? Well, honestly, the HIV awareness part could've been emphasized more. Time-wise, the cause got overwhelmed by the great band, 3rd Avenue, who kept dishing out the catchy tunes to the audience's delight. The part where Shola, Greenman and a doctor from PNAC sat in front to relay stories and answer questions could've made more impact somehow. It was a mix of factors.

Maybe it was the layout of the room. Maybe it was the conduciveness of the ambience to that type of discussion. Definitely, there was so much stuff going on all around. People mingling amongst themselves. Sexy promogirls getting the attention of the straight crowd. Alcohol in everyone's systems maybe didn't help. Maybe to some extent, even having so many positives there was also not a very grand idea because really, if you think about it, they... or we... really weren't there for lessons on HIV awareness at this point.

I just wish that the PNAC doctor didn't limit the risks of contracting HIV to having mutiple sex partners, being part of the commercial sex trade and drug use. Urk. Sorry doc, I just had to say. But regardless, it was a great effort by the community composed of a motel chain, condom manufacturers, a gimmick place, an audience of chatters and supposedly some call center professionals, and of course the advocates. Congratulations to Christine! You're really small but terrible! Roar!

Heading home around midnight, I had a photo opportunity, the chance to meet new friends and advocates, freebies including a pack of condoms, some lube, a mini FHM mag, and a couple of Victoria Court discount cards, and some lessons learned about organizing something like this. It ain't easy. Kudos to the team behind it.

Oh, right, you're probably wondering how the photo turned out. Let me just mention that the other advocates whose photos were featured included shola, Greenman, Dr. Ferchito Avelino of PNAC, and even Sandra Seifert, reigning Miss Philippines Earth. Okay, fine, here it goes... Be kind.


Sunday, March 21, 2010

Election Erection

It’s March already. In just a little over a month and a half, the elections will be coming up again. A lot of decisions to be made, and huge ones at that. Decisions that are to shape the future of this country. Whoa. Nosebleed.

Who turns me on? Who turns me off?

Who will ultimately give me that election erection?

I’m pretty much a good citizen when it comes to voting. I’ve been voting ever since I reached the age at which I was qualified to. And I haven’t missed a single election ever either. I’m fortunate enough to live within a block of the precinct I’m assigned to, so really, there isn’t much suffering in suffrage for me.

So it’s 2010. Another presidential election is coming up. With so many issues facing candidates with running a whole country, how does one know who to vote for? Of course, it is but natural to evaluate candidates’ positions on the topics which matter most to you. And for me, right now, some of the more relevant issues to the times that have been getting the much needed attention from the presidentiables are those on family planning, contraceptives and sex education. The RH bill must also be mentioned, as it provides for disseminating information and access to both natural and modern family planning methods, including the use of condoms and ligation. Let’s see how they did.

Benigno Aquino III

Noynoy, back in 2009, categorically stated that he would “go on supporting the Reproductive Health Bill despite the possibility that Roman Catholic Church leaders and voters will boycott him in the 2010 elections.” He added that a legislation on reproductive health can help provide the sex education that present and future generations need, in answer to the misinformation they may get from the Internet and other media.

But as of January, Noynoy is said to have softened his stand on the RH Bill. He now chose to use the more careful term “responsible parenthood” in explaining his policy on family planning. Hmmm.

Vagueness much?

Gilbert Teodoro

Teodoro’s wife, Tarlac representative Nikki Teodoro, was actually one of the authors of the Reproductive Health Bill. Wooooow. But... she withdrew her support for the RH Bill after Gibo declared his candidacy. Oi.

So while earlier interviews had him saying, “While the state may not impose moral standards in connection with the contentious issue (of reproductive health), the government should support any means (whether natural or artificial) which an individual has freely made,” which is precisely what the RH Bill contains, Gibo in January backed down from endorsing the RH Bill as well.

But by March, at a forum sponsored by the Philippine College of Physicians, Teodoro became one of the first to come up strongly in favor of the reproductive health issue, stating that “The Department (of Health) must provide funding for all modern and natural family planning methods, except abortion,” supporting the prophylactic moves initiated by DOH Secretary Cabral. Agh.

Fickle-minded much?

Manuel Villar

Villar has always been against the RH Bill. He does not believe that a reproductive health program should be made into a law. Ouch. Well expected, really, since Villar is known to be an active member of Couples for Christ, a Chirstian lay organization. Yeesh.

Scary much?

Joseph Ejercito

Known to be pro-poor, which probably translates to the-more-the-manier, Erap’s stand on the RH Bill is comprised mainly of giving the people the freedom to have as many kids as they want, saying the government has no hand in controlling this aspect of Filipinos lives. We must remember, of course, that this comes from someone whose concept of family planning involves planning family after family after family, siring his own offspring with woman after woman after woman. *Speechless*

Horny much?

Richard Gordon

Former SBMA chair Gordon, meanwhile, at the same Philippine College of Physicians Forum, stated that not a single peso of the national budget should be allotted for the purchase of condoms and other birth control devices. A bit vague though, considering that does not necessarily say he won’t support education campaigns for Filipinos about these said reproductive health devices.

A February article though states that while Gordon says he will not campaign for the bill’s approval, it’s important for the government to ensure the good health of its citizens by providing them information on how to take care of themselves. He even went as far as saying “I am not afraid of the church.” Oooooh.

Interesting much.

JC delos Reyes

Delos Reyes, on the other hand, believes contraceptives are dangerous. What the?! Fine, he is pro-life. But even more appalling, he sees no need to support campaigns for sex education, since he believes the youth have "natural" or instinctive knowledge of sex. Seriously? “I think youth have enough natural knowledge of what will happen if they have sex.” Say what?! He also said he believes distributing condoms to the youth, as part of safe-sex campaigns, "promotes promiscuity and infidelity.” Enough!

He also says the next president should focus on promoting respect for women instead of spending on reproductive health measures. Duh.

Ironic much?


Brother Eddie Villanueva, a popular evangelist, popular evangelist said that he will uphold “the rule of God above anything else." Nicolas Perlas, an independent candidate merely said he had reservations on some of the bill’s provisions. Jamby Madrigal, meanwhile, seems too busy bashing Villar to make statements on any other issues. Hehehe.

Much too much.

So there. If I were to vote for someone who clearly supported my cause, I realize I’d end up turning in a blank sheet. Really, the reason behind this is the position of the Catholic church against artificial and modern methods of family planning. They’ve actually gone on and released “election guidelines” for Catholic voters to veto candidates who go against the position of the church. How much farther have they gone? The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines said voters who would elect pro-RH bill candidates would become willing accomplices to "evil." Oh, for heaven’s sake... stop the brainwashing. Hasn’t anyone heard of the supposed separation of church and state?

But beyond the merits of the reproductive health issue in itself, bringing up the topic exposes the political will that is innate in each candidate. Honestly, I have more respect for someone who takes a firm stand on the issues, even if he or she does not agree with my own personal views on the issue, rather than those who swish from one side to another... leave the swishing to the tranny on the catwalk in nine-inch heels. Please... Take a stand. If you can’t, just take a seat.


Sunday, March 14, 2010

Getting Stoned

Egged on by BlackPool, I recently joined an online forum that was inspired by the barrage of HIV in the news lately. It was actually a good venue for discussion, populated primarily by Filipinos in and around their twenties, the exact demographic that is now said to be most affected by HIV and AIDS. Easier said than done, apparently.

It started out as a healthy discussion. But I think my coming into the thread seemed to stir things up. Initially, it was probably something new to them to have someone who actually was living with HIV to be in the discussion. Some had gone through this blog, and professed how much of an eye-opener it was for them. I was glad to some extent. Hell, some of them even cried. Cried?! I don’t really know why.

But then, all good things come to an end. One of the voices in the thread who wished to stir the pot in more turbulent ways came across one particular entry of mine, Sex After HIV, where I talked about how I had been doing in the sex arena as of around 7 or 8 months after finding out I was HIV-positive.

If you remember, I had been wading through the remaining ripples of my old fuck buddies, alibi-ing out of the unsafe sexers, and limiting myself to the ones who had always practiced safer sex. I was mostly not disclosing my status at the time. That’s when I started getting the flak.

Why wasn’t I disclosing? Considering that condoms are far from completely safe, what would I do if the rubber ripped and I unwittingly infected someone who I didn’t tell of my HIV-status? Would saying sorry make up for it? Interesting questions, indeed. But aside from questions, judgments were also being thrown around.

Their point? People who I was having sex with had the right to know. Ergo, according to them, I owed to disclose my HIV positive status to my sex partners, so they could choose whether they still wanted to have sex with me or not. Otherwise, I was to be robbed of the right to have sex. It was so bad that at some point, one person accused me of being careless with others’ lives because I no longer had any future to look forward to. And then of course there was the one statement that said people like me didn’t deserve to live and should be fed to an incinerator. Okay. A bit low.

The truth of the matter was that that post was made back in January 2009. Having sex with twenty guys in a span of 7 or 8 months was such a low already, compared to the around 100 I had sex with in that same period the year prior, when I had not gotten tested. And right now, I can say that in that same period a year after, I don’t think I’ve even had sex with 5 persons, and I’ve already made it a habit to disclose to most before anything could even happen.

It’s so bad that since dating Papi, I have not had sex. Yes, as in zero. Okay, two, if you include my right hand and a rubber pussy. Hmm. It has all been by choice, and not because of a self-inflicted law that forbids an HIV-positive person to have sex. But I chose not to defend myself in the thread in that way. I chose to take their debate to heart.

Why was I not disclosing? Because I believe that my disclosure of my status is my option. It is my right. And it is your privilege. The truth of the matter is that still many people are more afraid of having protected sex with someone who is known to be HIV-positive, compared to having unprotected sex with someone who does not know his or her HIV status. Analyze it. Yes, it is the wrong mindset to have.

Condoms not being completely fool proof? Well, part of using condoms does entail using it consistently, meaning always, and correctly. I know how to use condoms correctly. Do you? That way, you reduce the risk of condom failure to as little as under 2%.

And if the condom should tear? It is actually we HIV positives who have delved so much into the topic who know all the inside information as to what to do with accidental exposures to further cut down the risk of infection.

And of course, add to that the analysis that the irrational fear of these negatives shows their biases, their penchant to blame, and their need for information. We HIV positives do not merely use condoms to protect others. We use condoms to protect ourselves. We protect ourselves from other STDs that are out there. We actually have long lives ahead to look forward to, and must protect it from further complications.

HIV-positives having sex is a fact of life. And sadly, I cannot say confidently that all of us do confine ourselves to protected sex. And that’s just speaking of those 4,000+ who have been diagnosed already. Remember, we are only the tip of the iceberg. What about the rest of those who are carrying the virus that remain undiagnosed?

Think about it. Even if all 4,000+ of us who’ve been diagnosed stop having sex completely, that would not stop the spread of the virus. Not while possibly an equal or greater number of people are out there getting their freak on, unknowingly carry the virus and not getting tested.

One final attempt to mock and put the blame on HIV positives, specifically me, drove my point across. The same person who wanted to throw me into an incinerator said something to the tune of, “Thanks to people like this pathetic excuse for a human being, we HIV-negatives are now are limited to choosing between abstaining from sex, being mutually faithful with our sex partners, using protection always, or becoming part of the pozzie posse.” Duh?! So, he actually did get my point. Whatever else could I have been trying to say? I rest my case.

I just find it funny how some people don’t get the value of a look into the life of someone with HIV. Granted, based on the Sex After HIV entry, I was far from perfect. But then I’m not here to be perfect. I’m not here to be a saint. I’m here to tell my story, whatever it may be. It will be up to you to find the message that will be of greatest value to you.

It is the kind of a ready-to-incinerate attitude that is most destructive to the cause. It actually made me realize something. No wonder there aren’t more HIV positives coming out and disclosing their HIV statuses as readily. Because there still are self-righteous and judgmental people like these who are just ready to burn us at the stake. It’s sad. It’s really, really sad.

But funnily, these are the same arrogant people who... heaven forbid... if they ever do get diagnosed with HIV, will be flooded with regret and depression for sure. Agh. This stems from nothing else but fear. Irrational fear. And as Master Yoda says, fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, and hate leads to suffering.

My point was really simple. Fine, of course, there is some responsibility on the shoulders of us who are HIV-positive to protect our partners. But we are far from being primarily responsible. The fact will always remain that it is primarily and most importantly every individual’s responsibility to protect themselves.

A lesson learned that I may have been too brutally honest in telling my story here. But hey, since when has being honest been a bad thing? Will I start editing myself to look more perfect as expected? Hell, no. Let those who are without sin cast the first stone. Because as I’ve realized, if my confession of my supposed “sins” scares people into either abstaining from sex or using protection, then I’ve done my job.


Wednesday, March 03, 2010

The Luck of Sixes

Almost six months of not worrying about it.

Six months of ignoring it.

Six months of not thinking about it.

Six months of taunting it.

So will 6 still prove to be my lucky number? We'll find out soon enough... It's time for my CD4 count again.

Jun 2008: 343. Aug 2008: 328. Feb 2009: 484. Aug 2009: 493. So far, since starting ARVs in August 2008, my numbers had been increasing. Although my last result, an increase of just 9 measly points, seemed to show I had hit a plateau of some sort. Feb 2010 signalled my next count, and I was about to see if I had indeed plateaued. But of course, I would be unable to make that conclusion so easily.

This past six months covering Sep 2009 to Feb 2010 was riddled with so many factors that would make or break my CD4 trend.

Definitely, the period covered getting used to my new job. Hell, until now, I feel like I'm still adjusting to it... and you know how I am with change. And along with that comes wrestling with a longer commute to and from work everyday. Maybe it's not as bad as it can be, because I now opt for the comfort of riding a bus to work in the mornings, and just settle for the stressful yet speedy MRT on the way home in the evenings.

This past six months also stood witness to changes in my former non-existent lovelife. Ahem. Okay, fine. So maybe Papi and I are the least typical of couples you'll ever see. We aren't able to see each other every weekend. We don't see the need to text or talk everyday either. So it's pretty much a low maintenance kind of thing. But then of course, it's been far from perfect. There was that one "it's complicated" incident in January that threw us into the wind. Fine, it broke my heart and I cried that time. But right now it seems worked out.

Being in a relationship and being sexually active with each other also seem like two completely different things for us. With out going into detail... not like there's much to detail in actuality... my sex life for the past five or so months has been more or less confined to my right hand. Hmm. Not exactly how I'd like it, but it ain't exactly killing me. Okay change topic now, please.

This six month period also saw the birth of our little pozzie posse. Pozzie posse meant more gimmicks. Weekends, weekdays... didn't matter. Hanging out in places littered with smokers at times, but with drinking still kept occasional... just that occasions came more frequently. Argh.

Biggest change that the pozzie posse brought is that I had less of my alone time. Less siesta, less sleeping on time, more late nights out. Just this past week, I wasn't getting my full eight hours of sleep for five straight days: Thursday movie date with BFF GreenFrog; Friday late at the RITM with the posse; Saturday dinner, movie and coffee with W, W's newbie, LivingWithHiv and BFF; Sunday dinner with BruskoBoy and BFF; and Monday dinner with BFF and a couple of new couple pozzie friends. Okay maybe you've noticed BFF and I have been hanging out a lot lately... been moonlighting as a marriage counselor lately for him, helping him through the tough times. Oi, that was a stressful role as well. Hahaha.

So anyways, let me make clear that I'm not blaming the pozzie posse for anything. Any late nights and consumed alcohol and stuff was all by my own personal powers and choices. Thank you.

What else? Well, I no longer have the once a week serving of ampalaya that I used to have at my old office. Multivitamins, haven't been drinking them lately. Still recovering from a cold and cough that haunted me for the past two weeks. It's been so bad that I've been putting off getting my CD4 count. Remember, I was supposed to have it in February. I just went for it yesterday, March 2nd. Sort of fooling myself into thinking I could save up some CD4 points maybe. But not after still being pasaway for the past month.

So yesterday, I went. I wasn't alone. I was with W's newbie, Mr. Calf-Caresser, and my latest recruit... my new bunso. Despite knowing I wasn't exactly doing everything I could to raise my CD4 count for the past six months, I was actually excited to know how I did. I felt like I was experimenting to see how all these lifestyle choices would affect my CD4 count. Two words: Guinea Pig. So how exactly would I do? Would I drop some points or not? I could hear the drum roll already.

Good thing we needed to wait to talk to the doctor in the afternoon. I was sitting opposite Ate at her desk, when the curious cat in me took charge. My eyes were leafing through all the papers on her desk, when I recognized my patient code... Were these the results of the CD4 counts already? Ate told me, "Yes". Gawd. I saved my count on my phone, as well as those of W's newbie and Mr. Calf-Caresser. I texted them both their results, congratulating them because their counts meant they were still doing well enough to not need to start medications yet. How about mine?

Okay fine. Mine was... gulp... 447. Hmm. Still not so bad, being above 400. But as expected, it did go down. It went down 46 points to be exact. Hmm. I asked Ate what that meant for me, and she really thought it was no big deal, even attributing the drop to be a normal part of fluctuation. Hmm. Okay, I wasn't exactly depressed about it, but it did leave me a lot to think about.

Lessons learned? Well I'm not giving up my love or my friends exactly. Maybe I'll work some vitamins back into my routine. Maybe be more healthy somehow... or at least try. Less stress if that's possible. But as of last night, I was in bed by 10:00 pm, and even managed to squeeze in some shut-eye on the bus ride to work this morning. O diba, may takot din pala? Hehehe. Wish me luck on these next six months!