Mom and Daughter, A&A

11.20.2019

Mother A was raped in their province but never sought legal remedies.  The area nurse allegedly disclosed their status and they were discriminated by their neighbors.  She went to Manila and ended up in Bulacan where she found her mother- who turned her away. Mother A has rashes and blisters.

A’s daughter is A.  She’s two turning  three this coming November 29.   Baby A has rashes and blisters. Despite the rashes, Baby A is said to be lively and playful.

At the Shelter

They’ve been placed at a shelter south of Manila (location confidential, and if you do know the location, try not to tweet about it).  They would need food though  to sustain their stay at the shelter.   As soon the doctor sees them for their skin condition, we’re expecting the need to help out w/ the meds.

The baby needs Bear Brand fortified. This is not fit for her age but they prefer Fortified since the baby “got used to it”.  She also will need vitamins and XL Diapers.

Needs

Milk Bear Brand Fortified, grocery/food (as this is not shelter provided). Medical assistance since we’re expecting prescriptions from their derma check up tomorrow.
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James’ Plight (& the hope inspired)

So I posted this yesterday:

James

(Not so) Startling tweets

There were a couple of posts talking about euthanasia. It was hard to swallow when the patient and his siblings are fighting hard to make it through each day.

There was a tweet telling the gay community to straighten up (I paraphrased, of course).

Support

Donations (and prayers) have started to pour in since yesterday so later today, I should be able to meet with the brother so we can purchase some of the meds.  We have also asked for assistance across CSO partners like the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (which has its own HIV program) and Action for Health Initiatives.

I received some messages embarrassed to share “small” donations.  Know that a 10 peso-donation will help.

I reached out to Mommy Elena Felix who will also check with some partners for support.

I actually don’t mind having slept barely three hours responding to inquiries. Not all messages were donations, some were inquiring about the community, about HIV.  It was an opportunity worth grasping– to educate and inform.

The Longest Road

I can see how this path may be the longest and most tiresome journey for the older brother who right now, is turning every stone to get help. This is even more difficult than his personal journey when he was diagnosed himself a few years ago, and his was not an easy road as well.   Hospital bills have gone as high as 700,000 as they were referred by the treatment hub to a private hospital. As we make plans to transfer to a public hospital, the next question is: How about the bills?

Realization

The support I saw was, and is overwhelming, like when I posted about the need to assistance for a couple of kids born with HIV  weeks ago.  I saw how people rallied to call for help.  I saw how people called the attention of those who may have not-so-good things to tweet.

I saw a lot. I read a lot. I felt a lot.

I saw the heart in many, and the hope in everyone.

 

 

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Jose in Need

11.08.2019

Help.

Jose is an unemployed 30yo stage 4 HIV1 patient from Pampanga, he is in need of Genotyping. His cd4 was 3, then 4 after 6mos, and recently at “xxx”. ARV started June2018. No history of o.i. yet but has hepaB co-infection.

He has applied for assistance at their regional Social welfare office but was told to wait for a call, indefinitely.

He never missed a dose of ARV ever since, he’s never lost to follow up and is fighting to sustain his treatment. Let’s help this one.

Pls help. Send me a private message.

For assistance, please send me a message to:

 

 

 

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J’s Last

11.04.2019

I met J some time 2011-12.   I would then see him from time to time in blue bars but we remained in contact on Facebook.  A few weeks back, he disclosed his status  and said he’s been positive since 2013.  He said he was undetectable as of 2017 when he stopped ARV.

Reason:  Hub was too far from his place in Cainta.

Reason2:  He maintained a healthy lifestyle.

J has always been physically fit. Toned. Abs and all.  There was a point that he had to go into sex work to put food on the table.  He had a partner who’s HIV+ around the time that we met but back then, he was still negative.

2-3 weeks ago, he messaged me saying he had difficulty breathing and he easily gets tired.  I was concerned he had pneumonia and we talked about him getting back to treatment. Options were given to him, nearer hubs, private hubs. and of course, his old hub.  He decided to go back to his old hub.

The Monday after we talked, he went to his hub and was confined.  He never came out since then.  He would message me from time to time, asking about indigency certificate, and ARV.  He would tell me about the condition of the ward he was in.

October 29th, J messaged me to find someone who can accompany him inside the ward.  His family never came back for him after his sibling brought him there Day 1.  I was able to reach out to JF who was there on the 30th,   @iamae1995 (from Twitter) also helped out. Bren was there also.  It was Bren who informed me that tubes will have to be inserted since he was critical.  Bren also guaranteed that J’s social classification inside the hospital maintained an NBS (No Bill Status)

Saturday,  J messaged me asking whether or not he would let the docs do the tube insertion.  I was glad he messaged me since I was thinking he wanted to survive the fight hence, he was asking around.  He asked if the tubes were  going to be permanent and I said it’ll only be until such time that he gets better.

Saturday afternoon,  we got word from the doc that J signed a DNR and he removed his tubes. @pozmatt2011 was the last one scheduled to go to the hospital to assist, he got there past 7 in the evening.

J died a few minutes before Matt got there.

I saw it coming.  This is why I detached myself and never went to the hospital.  And now I wallow for not seeing you. For not being there for you.  I thought it was gonna hurt less.  I thought I was not gonna shed a single tear.

I was wrong.

J,

I’m sorry. I should have been there for you. Physically.  Your death caused more pain knowing that your family was not there for you, even in your death.  Your friends have been raising money for your cremation and they’re half way there.

Your pain must be over now. Mine will pass– soon.

Life was not easy on you. For you.

You’re gone now.

And in your departure, you finally beat life’s pain.

Your death shall not be in vain as we continue to help others, your passing refueled my passion to help others.

I am mad at your family,  I may not know the dynamics that led to them not showing up at all, but still, I’m angry. I know you wouldn’t want me to be, but I still am. Sorry.

You go and rest now.

I will see you soon.

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Proud or Ashamed

 

I recently got a message asking, “Are you ashamed to have HIV?”

“No.” I replied.

He continued, “Then you’re proud to have HIV?”

I said, “No.”

“I don’t get it.” He said

I was actually at the airport and it was 4 in the morning, and I didn’t see the urgency of the inquiry.  The message came from an old friend from pre-med school.

I called him up the next day but did not reach him. I then sent him this long email instead.

 

Hi, friend!

Sorry I was not able to respond to you yesterday morning as I was finding my way around the airport while waiting for boarding.  Let me answer your inquiry via email since a text message would seem too long.

So I am not exactly proud to have HIV,  as if it were an achievement.  I wouldn’t want to “inspire” or influence people to have HIV, really.

I am not ashamed of being HIV positive. If there’s a need to disclose, I would. But not telling some people about it is not because of shame,  it just doesn’t feel like there’s a need to do so.

D**, it’s not black and white. I’m not proud but I am not ashamed of my status.   I am taking accountability for the things I did during my younger years.  I am taking responsibility for my status and in doing so, I chose, and choose, to educate as much people as I can.   I am not afraid of what people will say, but I am concerned that others (especially on social media) may bash other bashers if I would indiscriminately shout out my status online.  Yes, there’s an opportunity to educate people, but I feel that education doesn’t have to come from below-the-belt hits.

You were one of the very, very, very few friends I retained from pre-med. People until now don’t even know about your sexuality.  You have remained in touch through the (many, many) years and I appreciate that.  You did not become a stranger through the years.  You were not a friend for good times only, or bad times only.  You were always there.

Don’t get me wrong, I took no offense in any way.  You were in fact one of the very few who kept asking about how my living with HIV was during my first few years more than a decade ago.

See you soon, loves.

 

Today, I got an email response:

Loves,

I guess I have seen your pic on Twitter (your poz account) and I have been “watching” your account from afar.  I was afraid that you might get bashed. I guess for more than 12 years, I have been in touch but we never really saw each other. I wanted to know how you were, how you are, and I wanted to know that you will be okay.  Of course, you weren’t offended, you never did, at least not by me. Proud of you, loves.  You went so far out there, farther than any of our friends in college did,  or could have gone.  Ever.   We dreamt of saving lives, and you are saving lives.  I used to tear up every time I think about you.  One day, I told myself, it’s not a question of who don’t deserve HIV, it’s a question of who can do most having HIV, and loves, that’s you.

***

P.S. Labs you always. Lams mo yans.

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Nurse, Nurse

 

The Nurse

You were diagnosed at a time when you were applying for London.   You didn’t know where to go and you came from a province down south Luzon.    You didn’t have a treatment clinic in your area and you wanted a better service provider than where you were south of Manila.  You transferred to SHIP and there, you continued your treatment.

You were constantly bogged down by your rejection from your London employment,  the hospital supervisor didn’t even bother to update you despite having supposedly accepted initially for employment.

You found a local hospital where you worked as a nurse but still would had that flare to go abroad to find that greener pasture that you dreamt of.   You would say hi from time to time but I always felt your sadness underneath.  You saw me at the clinic before but you were too shy to say hi, instead you messaged me afterwards to say you saw me.

You never gave up.  You applied again and disclosed your status.  This time at an employment firm known to be sending positive community members abroad for work.

A few days ago.

You messaged me about your schedule to leave this October.   You are finally leaving for Europe.  You found that path that you thought you lost. That dream that you thought had broken down to a million pieces.

You’re one inspiration people should always remember.

You never gave up.

You deserve your dreams.

I AM PROUD OF YOU.

 

 

 

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Chuchay and the likes of him

Chuchay is a minor who was “abused” by a neighbor but was given favors in exchange.  He needed the favors to help the family. But he also wanted the favors for some semblance of luxury like make-up kits and mobile phone.   Chuchay is a character in the movie, Mga Batang Poz.

K was 19 when I met her, she was infected at 16 from doing sex work.  She said she was not prostituted,  she called what she did work and pleasure but stressed the fact that it was something she did primarily for her family–so to put food on the table. After  diagnosis, she was constantly discriminated and stigmatized by her own family. She fought hard to attain that sense of normalcy in her life- she worked with her city health office as a peer educator and eventually went back to school.

T had a similar story.  He had to do sex work at 15 to sustain his studies as his mom was elderly and unable to work.   A performer at school, he made it through high school and eventually, diagnosed when he was in 2nd year college.  Life was harder after diagnosis but he was able to work sans the most needed life-saving ART.  He got pneumonia and tuberculosis but fought his way through the infections.

At 17, D had to offer massage online so he can have fare money to go to school. D hails from the north, an hour and a half from Quezon City. He was diagnosed at 18 when he came to me for CBS during a bout of shingles.  We had to source money from donors to get his way through the basic laboratory requirements and transportation money so he can access his ART. At this time, he has graduated senior high school and is undetectable.  He intends to work his way through college. Still offering massage online to sustain his education, his own family doesn’t know about his HIV.

Minors. The future.  They had to work hard to provide for themselves and/or their families.  They were not forced by clients to have sex for money, but they were forced to do sex for money so they can make it through a day with something in their stomachs.

Is this a blame game? The failure of the parents to provide?  The failure of the family to sustain?  The failure of the government as the duty bearer? The failure of these kids to “know better”?

But these kids don’t need fingers pointing at them, or anyone. They went through the most excruciating pains at such young age that all they want, is to live.  And yes, these pains came first, way  before HIV.

The community is small, that’s true.  But the dimensions and dynamics within that small positive community is so vast that issues go beyond who’s to blame.  The sub-cultures are so distinct that “I made it, so can you” may not work when we talk to people.  The heterogeneity of lives have so much array that they surpass claims of who can help better– or who is more powerful in the advocacy.

Talking to them helps, it may go a long way.

They say they’re okay. And I for one, would like  believe that they are.  But when we start blaming them, stigma intensifies.

Helping them by making them accept the blame won’t work.

Accepting blame and Accepting responsibilities are two different things.

Be there for our kids.

The time will come when these younger community members will take our place in the advocacy. Maybe not all of them, heck not even half. But a very few will.  A very few may even witness the coming of the cure.

Let’s be brave for one another, especially for our new kids.

 

 

 

 

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12years & 45old: I am Here

07.29.2019

13 to 25years ago.

I was younger. Impulsive.   I went to places. A lot of places. Bath houses. Cruising places. Movie houses. Bars.  And the legendary MIRC.   I had sex a lot, a LOT. I moved from one pad to another, nearly every year. One city to another, Quezon City, Makati, Mandaluyong, Manila, Taguig.  On the average I had around 7-10 partners weekly. Not an anal pene-fan but I had a few– imagine my definition of the word FEW. Started as top. Eventually bottomed. Ended up with anything goes. Career was stable.  Very good actually.  I was independent.  I was brave. I was confident.  I loved myself– in fact, I may have loved myself too much.  I didn’t do long term relationships, one week, two weeks, a month tops– then I ghost up.  I was nice (‘guess I still am), too nice I can’t say no to sex even if I didn’t like the “eyeball”. Anything goes. “Everything went.”

12 years ago.

I found him. A month after,  HIV diagnosis came.  He tested negative. I asked him to go if he wanted to. He didn’t. Confirmatory came back 3 months after.  CD4 scheduled 4 months after initial test.  But they lost my records. No baseline. No Nothing. I went back to my routine, this time with my ONE.   Career better than ever.

9 years ago.

I started ARV (CD4 less than 300) after a 2-piece shingle threat. I was undetectable in less than a year. Hub was hardly “inhabited”, I hardly saw other patients. RITM was a piece of heaven. I never had OIs.

7 years ago.

I quit my job. My friend and I decided there’s a need to focus on treatment and care services after having found out we were losing friends… to AIDS.  HASH was founded.  I focused on the organization. On the community.

Deaths still frequent.  But I told myself, we could still do more. I told myself, we are doing more… for the community. And we shall do more.

TODAY.

I realized that my hospitalization last week brought me closer to my grave. Not because of HIV, but because of hypertension that was so bad, my cardio said I was lucky I was still alive.  No shortness of breath, no headaches– but my nose bled profusely I thought I was gonna need transfusion.

That was in fact my first time to be confined. First time to be IV’d, to be “dextrosed”. First time to pee in bed using a urinal (plastic bottle).  There will be other first times. I know that. First time to realize who cared the most when I could have been in my death bed.

I have been giving my time, my life, my spirit to the so-called advocacy.  And I regret not a moment of it. The room for improvement for the HIV program is so big that we need more capable, more cerebral, more passionate, and more empathetic community volunteers.

I have seen lives lost. But I have seen more lives saved through the years.

I turn 45 in a few months.  I have been going to the gym for the past 2 years, more religiously the past year.  I tried to be conscious with what I put in my mouth (pun intended) but this time, I have to be most conscious than ever.

12 years living with HIV. 45 years living. 12 years loving.

I am still here.

I am here.

 

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Silence and a Half

07.12.2019

Oftentimes we encounter people from the community (even volunteers) going off grid, and we just think that they simply need some time off.  We go through the motion of our day-to-day activities pushing for more programs, more empowerment and more hands to hold.

In the process, we forget to stop and look back.

Where’s that volunteer who always shows up for pro bono projects? Where’s that guy who sometimes irritates us with the noise he makes in chats and pages?  Where’s that advocate who constantly shows up for senate and congress hearings?  Where’s that fighter who would name names when the community needs a voice? Where’s that survivor who visits patients and checks on them regularly?

We get caught up in our own agenda of helping others.   Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with that.

I too get caught up sometimes.

Do take some time though.

A roll call of who used to be by our side would be nice.

A quick hi.

A brief chat.

A simple how are you.

These things matter to break that silence.

And tell the person…

We’re here for you, just as you were always there for us.

 

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Hiatus Mode Off

 

So i haven’t been able to write lately.  Schedules just don’t seem to even let me open the website and browse.  But  I have been wanting to write (again).  Lately, I have watched the latest seasons of Lucifer and Grey’s Anatomy, also i finished watching Angels in America (again) last night.

Inspired.

So, here’s hoping to writing some more.

(((and yes, I miss making some peeps cry)))

***wicked smile***

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