Let’s face it. People would rather talk about sex—the excitement, the pleasure, partners and position, the abundance or the lack of it but seldom the repercussions of doing it careless and unprotected.
Sid (not his real name) recounts his story through its pivotal moments from finding out he’s HIV positive a year ago to fighting it, and now living with it.
On how he got it
I have an ex who passed away. Nobody told me yet about the reason. What happened then was, we went out to a bar, he passed out and people thought that he was just drunk. But I knew then something was different, parang gulay siya, para siyang na-stroke but his eyes were open. After a month, he underwent an operation and then, doon na, namatay siya.
Three months after his death, a common friend messaged me on Facebook. “Do you remember this person? Do you know why he died? The real cause of his death?” When this person told me, he (my ex) had HIV, this was when I panicked. I was crying then kasi siguro weeks before I was being paranoid na. I wanted to have myself tested, it’s just that I am scared.
On testing positive
I wasn’t actually surprised. I kinda knew already because of my ex, and with my ex we didn’t use protection at all. When the results were released, I was crying because ayun na, the reality was in front of me. When I found out that I have it, that I am reactive, that’s when I decided I have to do something. Then I volunteered, now I am very active in the (Love Yourself) organization.
On letting people you care about know
Initially, I outed myself to my mom. Sabi ng nanay ko, “Ang tagal kong tinanggap na bakla ka, may bago na naman akong tatanggapin.” Sabi ko talaga sa mom ko upfront, “Ma, andiyan na ‘yan. Tutulungan mo ba ko?” Sabi niya, “Oo, tutulungan kita. Anak kita ‘eh.”
With friends, it took some time to tell them. But when I did, they were very surprised actually because they see me as somebody very strong, they all looked up to me. And when I told them about my status, they couldn’t believe na ang lalim pala ng hugot ko with the things that I do.
Outing myself at work is another issue, because there was a time that I was transitioning dun sa medications which was difficult and then my boss asked me, “What’s wrong, you’ve been frequently absent.” I have to tell her. Good thing na lang din, she knows something about it so it wasn’t a big deal for her. But she wanted to tell other people which I didn’t like.
Outing yourself to dates or potential lovers, also difficult. I felt more discrimination from them honestly. I’ve had three or four people put me down because of it.
On what changes after finding out
‘Yon stress levels, before it was something na napaka-taas for me, something that I needed how to learn how to control kasi ‘yon talaga un makakapag-pahina talaga ng immune system specially the vices. I still drink, I still smoke, may puyat pa din na involved, it’s just that not as much as before.
On dating and engaging sexually
I am not really that sexually active. Meaning, I would not hookup just with anybody else. What changed is, for example I would have a date with somebody whom I really, really like. Before I have sex with his person, I want him to find out first what my status is—that’s the scare then. Maybe the person is ok with it, maybe he’s not. But if he’s not then sorry ka na lang… Whenever I tell them my status, they don’t wanna be involved with me.
On the harshest thing ever said to him
“I don’t think I can ever love a person who has HIV.”
On being weak from time to time
Sometimes, I still cry. I don’t show everybody when I’m sad about it. Siyempre mabigat kasi siya. At the end of the day, para bang di mo na siya mai-aalis sayo. You need people na susuportahan ka, to remind you that life is going to be okay, it’s gonna get better.
On loving others but loving yourself more
For some people na nakakausap ko, they say “eh kasi ayaw niya mag-condom.” Kasi parang test of ano daw yon, love. But you should love yourself more kasi if he passes something to you and then he leaves you, you’re gonna be left with that for the rest of your life. Learn first to take care of yourself, primarily.
On living with it and surviving
I am happy with everything that’s happening. I am happy with work, I am happy with relationships. I have a new boyfriend already who accepted me for what I am or what I have. I have very good friends who accept me, I don’t feel the stigma. My family knows it as well and they support me with every decision. I just wish people who are like me, who are living with HIV can also feel the love that I get from my resources kasi that’s where you get strength.
Tinaggap ko na, I’m not gonna live long like everybody else.
On what has become of him
I am HIV positive and I live a normal life just like anybody else. I am HIV positive and I’m a normal person just like you.
Photo by Jana Jimenez