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.

The HIV Result

If I test positive for HIV, what do I need to know?

This may be a big change in your life, but the first things you need to know are really very basic.

You need to know that you are okay. Things may not all be as they were before, but the important thing to realize is that life goes on.

You need to know that you have a future. HIV is not a death sentence. Thanks to the medical advances in recent times, people living with HIV can still continue living productive lives for years and years. You can still work, have relationships, have a family, and even have sex! Were you expecting more tragedy? Sorry to burst your bubble.

It’s normal to be overwhelmed by different emotions upon learning about your condition. You might feel sad, depressed, angry, numb, lost or be in denial. But hopefully, once you’ve gotten all the drama out of your system, you’ll see that it’s not as bad as it seems. You are still you. And that’s a good thing!

Is it really that easy?

Hey, I never said anything about HIV being easy. Initially, the process will entail understanding HIV, establishing with your doctors the condition your body is in, and taking the necessary steps to ensure that you are healthy, remain healthy, or get healthy as the case may be. The steps are there laid out for you. And knowing your status is a huge leap forward in the process of being healthy.

Who do I tell?

You do not have to tell everybody. You do not have to tell anyone you do not want to or are not ready to. You cannot be forced to disclose your HIV status. Even if an HIV support group says you have to tell someone, you don’t have to. Even if your doctor says you have to tell someone, you don’t have to. You don’t have to tell your parents, your family, your boss, your dentist or your friends. You just do not have to.

Definitely, you will have to get in touch with a doctor who specializes in HIV in order to get the proper care you need. But other than that, whom you tell and when you tell will be all up to you.

You might want to consider the option of telling others whom you may have put at risk of infection, so they can get tested as well. You may also want to tell some family members or friends who can give you the emotional support you might need in this new stage of your life.

But choose carefully whom you tell. We cannot control how the other person will react to the news, so just be prepared for anything. You might want to choose someone who you think needs to know, and is trust-worthy, open-minded, loving, respectful, practical, sensible, reliable and a good listener. Whew, I’m sure that trimmed down your list.

Unfortunately, there is stigma and fear attached to HIV. But that’s just mostly because many remain uneducated about it. Your HIV doctor and medical personnel, as well as HIV support groups would be glad to explain everything about HIV to the persons you choose to tell, so they can understand it…and you…better.

Where do I go?

In 1994, the Philippines’ Department of Health (DOH) established the National AIDS/STI Prevention and Control Program (NASPCP). The NASPCP is under the Infectious Disease Office of the National Center for Disease Prevention and Control.

In 1995, the DOH, through the Hospital Management Office and the NASPCP, enacted guidelines on the creation of HIV-AIDS Core Teams (HACTs) as the focal point for all HIV-related services in the hospital setting, including HIV counseling and testing, treatment of opportunistic infections, universal precautions and infection controls, psychosocial support for people living with HIV/AIDS and clinical management of HIV/AIDS through provision of anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs).