I never thought the day would come when I would write about the time I got infected with HIV. Come to think of it, I am unable to put a finger on who or when I got infected.
How many people have I had sex with?
- 12 years of very active sex life. That’s before I got infected.
- 52 weeks in a year (Yes, including Holy Week)
- Average of 3x a week (a conservative estimate)
So that’s 12*52*3 = 1,872 sex partners. By sex partners, this would mean:
- Oral Sex (100% would include oral sex)
- Anal Sex (Barely 2% as bottom plus roughly 5% as top)
So in August 22, 2007, I went on Sick Leave due to Flu. A colleague dropped by my pad in Makati and asked me to go with him to a Hospital in E. Rodriguez in Quezon City where he used to work as a Medical Technologist, he said I can avail of a complete laboratory exam without any cost. I thought it was unnecessary since we had an HMO card which can pretty much cover whatever lab exam that was needed. He insisted. I gave in. We went to the hospital, spent a few minutes in the Lab where my blood sample was extracted. And then we went home.
August 23, 2007. My friend dropped by my pad and asked me to go to the Lab with him again, saying that the blood sample was contaminated and we needed to have a new set extracted. So we went to the Lab, he personally extracted the blood sample and left me with his best friend in the other room. After what seemed like an hour, my friend came back crying, saying I am HIV positive. To calm him down, I told him I knew I was positive was back and he should not feel sad (of course, this was JUST to calm him down). To make the HIV-Antibody testing official, they asked me to sign a blood donor’s form after finding a patient with the same last name as mine. After the papers were signed, I was told to wait for a call as to when the confirmatory will come out.
NO. I was never aware that HIV testing was a part of the procedure.
October, 2007. I went back to the lab and I was told to proceed to a room where a doctor will shortly join me. The doctor came in and gave me my confirmatory results and I was directed to look for a certain person in SanLazaro on Nov 08, 2007. I was also given a white card stating that I was HIV positive
NO, I never got any pre-test nor post-test counseling.
November 08,2007. My eldest brother’s birthday celebration. I went to the Department of Heath in Avenida, Manila. I looked for the person as instructed. My heart pounding while waiting for the person who brought me to a room and I showed him the white card the hospital gave me. He immediately called the hospital and reprimanded them for giving such a card to me. He then told me to proceed to a building nearby.
I did. As I walked towards the building, I noticed that the TB ward was right in front of the building. I remember holding my breath as I walked by the building in front of my destination — and after I caught my breath, I told myself:
Try doing that for the next hour, idiot!
There my name was recorded, my ID was requested as they wrote my name down, and then I was instructed to come back on December 13 for my CD4.
December 13, 2007. I came back but they could not find my name or my record.
I decided to give it a shrug. I never bothered thinking about my baseline, my CD4, my status — and just gave it as shrug and move on with my life.
3rd quarter of 2009. I was experiencing high fever and extreme headache at work. I recall having myself locked inside the coaching room and crying because of the pain. Then I finally went down to the clinic. The doctor was quick to notice (what I assumed was) a cluster of pimples on my forehead (around 3), and immediately said that was not a pimple. I had shingles. I was given medication and in 2-3 days, I was fine.
January 04 of 2010. I consulted Ferdie, A friend from The Library Foundation and asked him how to go about the treatment. I was then referred to RITM.
January 13, 2010, Ferdie brought my partner and I to ARG. Ate Ana listened to my San Lazaro story and quickly gave me a resolution. On the same day, I had my first CD4 (225), my first baseline exams, and took home my first bottles of ARV (Lami-Zido-Nevi).
As of July 2013, my CD4 has gone up to 825. I still am on the same ARV combo that I started in 2010.
You see, this is not a model story to look at, having ignored my condition from 2007-2009. What this is is a story of LUCK. Someone who ignored his condition for a couple of years, never got any Opportunistic infections (except for the Shingles), and has continued on his 6th year of infection as normal as any normal person could possibly live. (Of course, I don’t wanna get to the discussion on the definition of norms).
This is a story of a 2nd chance.
A second chance. I always told myself that I must have done something good in this lifetime to have:
- a second chance
- a partner who has stayed with me since 2007
- an opportunity to serve other PLHIVs
Oh yeah, I’m a lucky son of a b*tch, so don’t think you can get away with what I did. If you had that opportunity to hold on to your good health — or address whatever health issues you have— grab it by the neck and never let it go. Don’t push your luck the way I did. Not everyone is as lucky as I am.
Don’t push your luck, reactive or non-reactive. Know your responsibilities.
Don’t push your luck, reactive or non-reactive. Appreciate second chances.
Don’t push your luck, reactive or non-reactive. Life goes on.