A colleague came over to my pad in Makati. I have been on sick leave due to a bad case of flu for two days and he wanted me to go “under the table” with a complete laboratory exam at a Tertiary Hospital in Quezon City. I was adamant since I felt it was unnecessary since we had a health card at work and we could just use that at a hospital in Makati. My friend insisted since he used to work in that hospital and he said he can have all laboratory procedures done without fees whatsoever. I agreed.
The lab works were done quickly. We went home shortly.
The next day, my friend came over saying some blood tests had to be repeated since the sample was improperly handled. Without hesitancy, I agreed to go back to the hospital. They drew blood and I was made to wait in the blood bank where a common friend was working. Our friend kept me pre-occupied with the procedures in the blood bank and an hour or so after, my friend came back. Crying.
He said I was HIV(+). I looked at him and he was so sad that I lied and told him I have known about my reactive status for years then.
They made me sign a bogus blood donation sheet to make the entire test procedure legitimate. No fuss, I signed.
We went straight to the office to meet my partner, who then was my partner for a month. We had a kit with us to draw his blood and had him tested as well. We were at the smoking area and my first instinct was to ask him if he wanted out of the relationship.
He said no.
LIKE ANY OTHER DAY
We went about the day like any other day. I went about my day like any other day. The next day, my partner’s test came out negative.
MY BEST FRIEND
That night I asked my best friend to come over my pad. He came over and while I was frontloading my disclosure, he was already crying. I tried to make it light. It was after all for me a non-issue and I felt the “need” to tell my friend.
A SHORT WEEK
That was a short week. It was a quick week and I went back to work before the week ended. I might have disclosed my status to at least ten people before the week ended.
The diagnosis did not occur to me like it was the end of the world. I did not think about having lost anything or any opportunity. It was as if I had a simple blood test and they found something wrong with the results. I did not think about treatment. I did not think about support groups. I did not think about my family.
Was I selfish?
Looking back, I think I may have failed to realize the opportunity that was presented to me when I was diagnosed. I worked with the HIV community from 1995 until around 2002, and I failed to see the call to come back to what I had set out to do growing up in the community.
WOULD I HAVE DONE THINGS DIFFERENTLY?
I am heavily immersed in the HIV community. I spend my days working and discussing issues for and with the community. My world in a sense became smaller as I lost touch of the non-reactive world and thrived in my reactive world.
Had I not been diagnosed, I wouldn’t know If I will be where I am now.
Every smile I get in return is worthless.
I am not here to change the world, or anyone’s behavior. I am here to help others thrive as they live with HIV.
7 YEAR AGO
This same week seven years ago, I was diagnosed and my life changed. It may have not been an instant and a sudden change but my life did change.
This same week seven years ago, my partner showed me unconditional love. And I have been with him ever since.
This same week seven years ago, I had the greatest gifts I could ever have:
HIV & my partner.