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.
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.