May 08, 2017

I just got back from a near 10 hour drive from Ilocos.  I had to see you for HIV screening and admittedly, my mind was not up to it.  Exhausted, I dragged my ass and drove to your location. You were already waiting when I got there.  And inside the car, we talked about your history,  your risks, your concerns. You. Your parents both passed away  years ago and you were in Manila alone. Working in a call center in Manila for almost 10 years, you had no one but yourself.  Your aunt’s your only family, but she’s in Zamboanga, some 1300 kilometers south of the Philippines. You have two siblings, the other one you can’t find and has not been in touch for five years. Your other sibling has a kid, also with your Aunt in Zamboanga.


The time came and we finally did your HIV screening. Reactive.  You were calm.  You didn’t go all crazy on me. You didn’t cry. Your eyes however said everything.  Your sadness was evident.  We went on to Project 7 Social Hygiene where your HIV test was done along with your baseline tests. CD4 was 164.

May 27, 2017

You went back to Zamboanga City.   You messaged me saying you have moved to Zamboanga. You messaged me on Facebook, but we met on Twitter– so yeah, I was clueless who you were.

August 27, 2017

You messaged me asking if I am in town.  I wasn’t quite sure who you were but yeah, I am in town.  We chatted and it took some time before I finally remembered who you were. You transferred treatment to Zamboanga City and you have been doing very well.   Your treatment has been consistent, although you were given anti-depressants by the Psychiatrist due to occasional depressions.    You felt you were stable and that you didn’t need your psych meds anymore.  You joined a transgenders group and has been active in the community.  You disclosed to practically everyone in town and you don’t care what others think about you. Or your status.

You’re good. You’re well. You’re well on your way.

August 28, 2017

Today, you came in early for a meeting for community-based HIV screening.  You were full of life.   You told me so much stories in the little time you spent here in Zamboanga.  You also told me how much you wanted to start helping with the HIV program in the city.

You looked happy.  And I’m glad you are.  You are looking forward to a better tomorrow– good for you.

It felt like you’ve grown so much in the past few months I have not seen you.

You Owe Me

You must have told me three times since yesterday that you owe me your life. You don’t.  You gathered your own shit and faced your fears. And I, in fact, owe you.  You inspired me to keep going. At a time when I always end my days tired, you inspired me to keep moving.

Keep Going

Please. Keep going.

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The New Form A- HIV Testing (and tattoos)


The Form A of the the Department of Health-Epidemiology Bureau is the form used for/by people who wants to get tested for HIV. Click here to view the new –> Form A_v2017

There are some questions around the new form:

  1. Why is tattoo being asked in the form under risk assessment?
  2. Why does the government say “fill up” instead of fill out?


form A tattoo

According to CDC,

There are no known cases in the United States of anyone getting HIV this way. However, it is possible to get HIV from a reused or not properly sterilized tattoo or piercing needle or other equipment, or from contaminated ink.

It’s possible to get HIV from tattooing or body piercing if the equipment used for these procedures has someone else’s blood in it or if the ink is shared. The risk of getting HIV this way is very low, but the risk increases when the person doing the procedure is unlicensed, because of the potential for unsanitary practices such as sharing needles or ink. If you get a tattoo or a body piercing, be sure that the person doing the procedure is properly licensed and that they use only new or sterilized needles, ink, and other supplies.

So that’s in the US, of course.  There hasn’t been a formal report around transmission from tattoos/piercings in the country, as far as I know.  The HIV registry does show needle sharing so I don’t quite know if there were cases around alleged tattoo transmissions.  Licensed tattoo artists are really not a thing in the Philippines,  while former Senator Manny Villar did submit a bill around tattooing,  I am quite not sure if it ever passed as a law.

So is it possible to get HIV from Tattooing, according to the article in CDC, yeah.  Low risk, yes.  Never in the US, yeah.  I hope that answers the messages I have been getting lately about the new form A.

So there.

Oops, the fill up-fill out thing? How the hell should I know? LOLS!


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A NOTE for @iampozguy

Update as of 8/16 – He’s fine, for now.



You posted:


A death note.

By the time you read this letter I am gone. I am tired. For more than five years I have struggled with my condition. I tried fighting back but I can no longer bear the pain. I am happy to have been given five years with you all. I am grateful to God for extending my life and giving me a chance to live a full life.

5 years ago, you were lost. You stopped treatment.

On my 5th year, I found you and we went back to your treatment. From CD4 of 4, two days ago we were chatting and you’re on 600.

Two days ago, you were asking about pneumonia vaccine.

Two days ago, I did not hear any cry for help.

A few hours after we chatted, your blog came out. People panicked. I was not aware of your post.

It’s my tenth year.  It’s your 5th.

And I don’t know where you are.

Last night, I was told you were gone.

Everyone’s assuming.

I am hoping.

Where are you?



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The Tough Lady Archer


First Time

She was 18, she sent me a message asking about her treatment and that she was afraid that her family will find out about her status.  She stopped contacting me for a while and then she came back one day, asking for help for her shingles.


We set up a meeting but she never showed up, a few days later, she messaged me asking about her meds for shingles.  We found a way of getting the meds to her through a volunteer near her school.


A deafening silence kept her away from treatment. From time to time, she would say hi but it ends there.  No action to seek treatment. Her focus was her school.  She graduated eventually, started to work. But no, treatment is still not her priority.

Fear was her main issue, subconsciously she has prioritized fear over treatment.

You Finally Came Back

She said  she  would finally seek treatment, she went back to RITM but she was asked to pay for your CD4.  I referred you to some free CD4 services. And silence followed.  It wasn’t until a few months after that I found out she never sought the CD4 services I referred to you.

Last week

She was concerned with a recurring cough. Persistent mostly.  She messaged me, but her fear was still there, that her mom doesn’t know.  A few minutes later,  she again messaged me, she told her mom. And everything’s fine.  She asked me to talk to her mom and we talked for an hour over the phone.  Her mom’s a health worker and she understood what her daughter was going through.  Her mom was asking, “Where did I go wrong?” but she said she wouldn’t want her kid to know about her question.  Her mom was mainly concerned with one thing, treatment.

This coming Monday, she and her mother will go to a private clinic for baseline.

And well, I guess this is a start of an entirely new story in the life of a young transwoman.

And I’m happy for her.



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Here’s an overview of the HIV registry reported as of May, 2017.


  1. 1,098 new cases reported, the highest ever in the history of HIV case-recording in the country. This averaged 35/cases per day last May.  Note that the numbers would refer to the confirmed cases reported for the month, and since the confirmatory process takes 10 business days (at least), some of the screenings may have been done April, and some May screened reactives would have been confirmed by June.
  2. 140 AIDS cases were noted, more than 10% of the new cases were clinically labelled as AIDS cases. These would be cases with CD4 of less than 200 and/or with the presence of an opportunistic infection.
  3. 8 pregnant women were reported to have been confirmed with HIV. Note that in a recent travel to the region 1 areas, some municipalities do not have HIV testing available, and most pregnant women were never tested, or were never informed about HIV testing.
  4. Region 3 went up to number 3 among the regions, normally occupied by Region 7. NCR retains its top position among the different regions of the country.
  5. In May 2017, 64 adolescents aged 10-19 years were reported.  3 children aged 10 years and below were reported to be HIV positive and were infected through mother-to-child transmission.
  6. Eighty-four OFWs were reported in May 2017, comprising 8% of the total newly diagnosed cases.
  7. In May 2017, there were 15 reported deaths.

Please view the entire report here:  EB_HIV_May-AIDSreg2017.

This reinforces the illustration below recently released by  UNAIDS:


If the country continues to push for more awareness and education, we expect to screen more people for HIV.  If more non-“fast track” cities would start with their HIV programs, we hope to reach more people.  On top of the screening is the need to link more people to treatment and care, and RETAIN people in treatment.

It’s a long road.  But we have to start walking (or driving) that long road, or else, we don’t get anywhere.

Talk to us on FACEBOOK  


Read and ask more about free community-based HIV screening 


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Ben’s Fight.


Tuesday 10PM

I stared at the bus that’s supposed to bring me more than 350 kilometers up north, I was worried. Worried that my ADHD would make me get off the bus half way through the ride. I couldn’t drive since I just came from the same region less than 36 hours ago, and I had no one with me.

But I knew you were waiting. As you have been looking for me last June.

Wednesday 6AM.

7-11.  I forced myself to stop at the store to have some bland hazelnut coffee. I was nervous, afraid – to see you.  I finally had the courage to call one of the yellow tricycles nearby and go to your place.  The ride seemed longer than the 10 hour trip going there from Manila.  The first right turn was a narrow cemented road but when I saw the arc labelling your barangay, I thought you were like 4, 5 houses away since your house number is 8. But I was wrong.  The narrow road went on and on.  The driver turned left to an even narrower road. A dirt road. The first thing I thought of was how the heck was I gonna get out of the place.  A few more minutes, we stopped at a place with a tarp out front. Your face was on the tarp.  I sighed, “I am here”.

Your grandmother greeted me, your mom was seated. Staring at you. Not a single word. She looked at me, extended her hand and lightly squeezed mine. I walked over to you. Your coffin. Pictures of your happy moments were all over the wall.  Pictures that I remembered you by.  I closed my eyes for 1-2-3 seconds and I looked at you.  I almost turned around and shouted, this is not him.

First Meeting.

Year 2014. You were late. I had been waiting for hours and had rendered counseling duty at the RITM satellite clinic in Malate. I cannot forget that day because that day, I had four clients who tested reactive in the clinic, and I had to do consecutive counselings. You were going to give me your PWD application, your I.D. pictures, your confirmatory letter. You finally texted.  I went out, smoked and stood by the door and waited for you, again.  Then from afar, a man around my height, lean, dark was walking towards the clinic.  I puffed and I told myself, “HOT guy”.   I gazed the other way looking for you, waiting for you.  Then from behind, a voice called out, “Dad!!!”.  I turned around, the HOT guy just called me DAD. The hot guy was you. “pfft….!” There goes my fantasy. LOLS.  We chatted, you were speaking Ilocano from time to time. It was a brief chat.  Your big bright smile impressed me, you were light to be with, your smile can readily brighten up anyone.   You had to leave for somewhere and I had to go back in for my counseling duty. Over the next three years, we would keep in touch, meet for coffee from time to time, text—and as always, your smile—Your smile.

Your Brother.

He tapped me from behind as I stared at you in disbelief.  Your last pics on facebook last May were the actual you I met 3 years ago.  Your brother whispered from behind, “kuya…” I turned to him and he was starting to cry.  I asked your brother to go with me outside and talk. And I needed to smoke. A lot.

Tell Me.

There were a million and one questions in my mind.  Your brother told me everything. He answered what I needed to ask.  He told me you only had your ARV for a month and you stopped.  He told me you were depressed with how your networking colleagues have been successful and you weren’t.   He told me how you last visited them during the holy week and the family went swimming, and that you were, as always, perky and “normal”.  He told me that mid-June, you came back and was confined at the nearest treatment hub.  He told me you were looking for me to help the family decide if it were better for you to seek treatment in the province or in Manila.  He told me you decided to go home 3-4 weeks after confinement so you can “rest better”.  He told me that last Monday you were having difficulty breathing, Tuesday you were having difficulty swallowing, Saturday you were gone.  It was one of the longest two hours of my life.  Despite the many “he told me” moments,  there was one question left unanswered – Why didn’t you come to me?


I got home after a gruesome 12 hour bus trip. My back ached. My head empty. My heart in pain. Still.

Your Fight.

At least four people had told me I had no control over someone’s decision.  That one’s health is one’s personal responsibility.   The thing is YOU are one of my personal responsibilities. And I felt I failed. I failed to ask how your treatment was. All the convos were hellos and work and laughters. I failed.  At least three people said you gave the fight up.  I had to rationalize. No!

You fought your own way.  The way you fought no one can judge.  You fought differently. You chose to fight the way you did and now you are resting.  I may have failed, but you won your fight.  I have to tell myself that you won your battle. In your own way.

Still, I’m proud of you. I am sorry I wasn’t there, I am sorry I was too busy with the programmatic aspects of my work, and I am sorry I wasn’t there. It pains me, deeply, that you have gone away for good.

But your smile—they will always bring me sweetest memories of you.

Thank you for being a part of my life. Ben.






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IAS: Guidance note on the use of antiretrovirals for prevention in the context of universal access to treatment


NOTE: I am unable to post or add a file in the HASH facebook page. But this is a good reference material.((Not an original post, downloaded from the International AIDS Society page))

SOURCE:  https://www.iasociety.org/Nobody-Left-Behind

This Nobody-Left-Behind Guidance on ARV Universal Access (as attached) is for anyone who provides HIV testing, treatment, prevention and care services either in a traditional healthcare setting or within the community. It provides a concise signposting to other existing guidelines, frameworks and best practice guidance in order to assist healthcare providers counsel individual clients on HIV testing, treatment and prevention in a way that is supportive, respectful, equitable and non-discriminatory, and mindful of ethical, legal and operational issues.

Some direct quotes from the attached:

The 2013 WHO guidelines recommend the following:
Before people start ART, it is important to have a detailed discussion with them about their willingness and readiness to initiate ART, the ARV regimen, dosage and scheduling, the likely benefits and possible adverse effects and the required follow-up and monitoring visits…

Adherence interventions, such as text messaging, should clearly be provided as part of a total package of several interventions. Many individual level adherence interventions are indicated for reasons in addition to improving adherence to ART. For example, nutritional support, peer support, management of depression and substance use disorders and patient education are vital components of routine
health and HIV care

HIV healthcare providers should recognize and respect their duty to protect the confidentiality of their patientsand should only disclose highly personal information, such as HIV status, with the informed consent of the patient. Failure to maintain confidentiality may cause harm and is therefore in direct confrontation with the Hippocratic Oath provision to do no harm.

Mothers known to be infected with HIV (and whose infants are HIV uninfected or of unknown HIV status) should exclusively breastfeed their infants for the first 6 months of life, introducing appropriate complementary foods thereafter, and continue breastfeeding for the first 12 months of life. Breastfeeding should then only stop once a nutritionally adequate and safe diet without breast-milk can be provided

If you are faced with an issue of dual-loyalty (if the law in your jurisdiction is in conflict with your ethical obligation to serve all patients fairly), it is important for all healthcare providers to prioritize their core obligation and their Hippocratic Oath.


***Do read the attached document, especially for our friends from other civil society organizations

For more information, HIV screening and Treatment and care support, please message us at https://www.facebook.com/HASHPilipinas/


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Year X


Been 10 years.

When we first jumped head first  into this relationship.

When people judged us for not understanding the no-sex relationship, and the set up we had around our relationship.

When I was diagnosed a month after and you stayed with me

For ten years-

I’d open my eyes in the morning knowing you’re there.

We’d attend family affairs together.

10 christmases. 10 new year’s eves. 

10 imperfect perfect years.

And a lifetime ahead.

With you.

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March – April 2017, HIV AIDS REGISTRY OF THE PHILIPPINES (late post)


While I am quite sure that the May, 2017 data will have come out in the next couple of days, it’s too late since I realized this after I did the table below =(

So here are the march – april data, sorry was busy the past two months.


Here’s a simple table I did 😉

  March 2017 April 2017 2017 Year to Date
New HIV Cases 968 629 3,290
AIDS Cases 108 84 376
AIDS Cases (% to new cases) 11.15% 13.35% 11.42%
Male 926 596 3,131
Male % cases 95.66% 94.75% 96.96%
Less Than 15 y/o 4 2 10
15-24 y/o 315 190 1,020
25-34 y/o 481 323 1,653
Pregnant WLHIV 4 6 21
Reported Deaths 27 17 172
NCR (Top 1 region) 234 (37%) 32% 1,160 (35%)
Region 4A (Top 2 region) 109 (14% ) 17% 524 (16%)
New ART Reported 754 561 2,471


Male to Male sex 560 343 1,814
Sex w/ Both Male & Female 184 260 770
Mother-to-Child 4 2 10
Sharing of Infected Ndles 4 18 75


Adolescents Cases (10-19) 45 / 968 33 / 629  
Less than 10 y/o 0 2  
OFW 59 51  
Accepted payment for sex 33M/2F 16M/1F 96M/9F
Paid for sex 46M/0F 23M/0F 155M/0F
Engaged in Both 14M/0F 8M/0F 49M/0F


  • More and more cities not considered under the global fund sites should act to increase HIV awareness and testing in their areas.
  • Most local AIDS councils need to activate – and reactivate.
  • More civil society organization should collaborate, we are not just talking about HIV CSOs and NGOs,  organizations working on poverty, on human rights, women and child care/welfare,  health care, the list goes on and on.

WE ARE ALL AFFECTED. If you’re thinking you’re immune from HIV, the effects go well beyond the virus entering your body.  Effects may reach your closest friends, family members, loved ones.

Talk to us on FACEBOOK  


Read and ask more about free community-based HIV screening 


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When you’re working with the community, does it mean that you are working at the Grassroots level?

I have heard so many stories around people claiming that they are actually working at the Grassroots but then again, they never really went down there, people would do research and would use years of experience to bring out probably the more brilliant ideas and proposals and projects but then again, they have never really been down there or maybe at least not recently.

People actually instruct or direct the community to do this and that but then again, they never really asked what the community wants to begin with– thinking that their suggestions are what’s best for the community.

It’s like, how can you actually be a trainer when you haven’t really practiced what you are supposed to train? Or manage a food Business Without Really learning and experiencing what the crew members are doing?

Of course, people can actually do in-depth research, both quantitative and qualitative, to come up with cerebral research materials but when they haven’t really immersed, I always feel the lack of soul in the research. It all seems like a bunch of words and numbers and figures and graphs. 

Without actual immersion, are we actually asking the right questions in a research?
The Grassroots is where the real struggles are and in the end, it’s where the answers are. We can always come up with the most intellectual theoretical Solutions but then again, the mind and the heart will have to meet somewhere for a proposed solution to be seamless.

I think (some of) the problems are:

  • that people tend to think that education and work experience adapt them into the Grassroots level, not taking into consideration that actual Grassroots experiences evolve and constant immersion is needed
  • That some people think they are more Superior than others that they forget all about the phrase, “nothing about us without us.”
  • That sometimes perceived commitment and passion to the advocacy leaves us Clueless with  what’s really going on down there

Yes, we all believe in evidence-based data and research as well as evidence-based proposals, but then again let us not forget that the Grassroots will always make an important part of that evidence.

ALWAYS go back to where it all started.

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