Tuesday, June 25, 2013


To PLHIVs reading this, if you wanna be in a group composed of fellow PLHIVs, advocates, supporters and the like, join the Facebook group called The Red Ribbon.  You can find useful information there as well as get valuable advice from knowledgeable people.

Believe me, you can learn a lot from that Facebook page.  I'm a member there. :)

Friday, June 21, 2013

Three years after

Well what do you know, I marked my 3rd year as a PLHIV last March 26 and it was only early this week that I remembered that significant date after I mentioned about my blog to a new friend of mine I met through social media.

Three years of living with this incurable ailment.  Three years of hosting a virus that I contracted through unsafe sex.  Three years of ups and downs as far as my health is concerned.

So you might ask, how have I been doing since I learned that I was HIV-positive on that fateful day of March 26, 2010.  As of this writing, I am doing good so far.

I can't say the same though in the months that followed after I learned that I am a PLHIV.  After I started taking antiretrovirals (ARVs), I contracted fever and rashes all over my body, which meant that the first line of ARV given to me caused an allergic reaction so it had to be changed.  I was weak and had to stay in bed for more than a week as my body adjusted to the ARVs, which wrought havoc on my work sked.  I also suffered from bouts of folliculitis on my scalp, cellulitis on my legs, and then I had shingles.  Since March 2010, I'd been hospitalized twice and would see a doctor every now and then for various bodily ailments as a result of my body's adjustment to the ARVs I was taking,

It was such a struggle way back then and I nearly gave up on living.  If it weren't for fellow PLHIVS, friends who knew about my status, my family and my partner who would help me deal with my condition, I would have been six feet underground a long time ago.

It's a daily struggle to adhere to a healthy lifestyle and taking my ARVs on time.  I also have to be on guard every day against any health menace considering that my immune system is already compromised.  Even if I am taking ARVs, it is no guarantee that I won't get sick.  There are times when I suddenly become unwell so I have to go and have a checkup whenever it happens even if it is just a case of ordinary fever.

Aside from this, I also have to deal with occasional bouts of depression as a result of my condition and an effect of my ARVs.  It can be difficult at times but thankfully, I am able to manage well.

I know there will still be difficulties and challenges ahead as a result of my health status but with God's help, and the support of my friends, my family and my partner; I know that I can overcome them with flying colors-so to speak.

And as a felllow PLHIV would often tell me - keep on fighting!

Higher and higher

Another grim statistics for HIV in the Philippines.

Department of Health official Doc Eric Tayag (‏@erictayag) reported today that "#DOH adds 388 new #HIV cases for APR 2013, highest ever for monthly new cases  Total for 2013 is 1,477  Total since 1984 is 13,179."

Every month, we have been posting the highest ever monthly new cases and I don't see the end in sight.

This is because I believe that the increasing number of cases of HIV in the Philippines is not anymore due to the lack of information and the conduct of an aggressive campaign against the spread of the ailment but more already on the apathy of those who belong to the high-risk sector of the society.

Because they prefer unprotected sex over safe sex, they already throw caution to the wind and do it.

What do you guys think?

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Really sad HIV stats

The reliable Dr. Eric Tayag of the Philippine Department of Health, who I follow on Twitter, reported this:

For March 2013: 370 new #HIV cases bringing total to 1,089 for the year and 12,791 since 1984 (when the Philippines started recording HIV cases). We now have 12 new #HIV cases everyday. #DOH

When I was diagnosed as HIV-positive in March 2010, the number of new HIV cases everyday was between 3 and 4.  In just a little over 2 years, it has grown to 12 new HIV cases daily. :(

No matter how much the private sector and government try to stem the growing number of HIV cases in the country through various activities and aggressive campaigns on safe sex and not sharing used needles among drug users, it still keep rising.

And I blame this already on poor personal judgement/decision.choice.  Why? Because no matter how much we all hanker or prod the vulnerable sector of society to refrain from doing unsafe sex and sharing needles, it is still up to the persons involved to decide if they will follow it or not.

I am sure they are old enough to understand the dire consequences of unsafe acts that may lead to contracting HIV but if they insist on doing otherwise, then that is their choice.

I hope something is done about this. A draconian measure, if needed, to stop the growing epidemic.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

My "anniversary" visit and my new CD4 count

I went to my treatment hub yesterday (Research Institute for Tropical Medicine) for my CD4 count and other so-called "anniversary" tests (blood, chemistry, physical laboratory tests done yearly) and I was already dreading the thought of going there, particularly the travel to and from my place.  Since I took a day's leave from work, I was thinking maybe I would not stay long in RITM and spend the rest of the day at home.

I tried to keep my spirits up but there was this nagging feeling that I may encounter a hitch on my way to RITM and during my stay there.

I woke up at 5 a.m., showered, dressed up, and left for RITM at 6 a.m. with no breakfast because those set for "anniversary" tests should go fasting the night before. Also, CD4 count is set from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. only.  I arrived in Alabang a little past 6:30 a.m. and went to the public transport station for RITM-bound vehicles and just as I was approaching the station, a vehicle was leaving and I had to run to catch it. Alas, I didn't so I had to wait for several minutes for another vehicle to ferry people to RITM.  I got in RITM before 7 a.m. and I sprinted to the laboratory to submit my lab request papers that I already had in my possession.  I had my x-ray first then blood extraction for CD4 and CBC.  I  chanced upon a PLHIV-friend of mine and chatted with him for awhile.  As my turn for the blood extraction was still sometime later, I went to the Aids Research Group (ARG) clinic to submit my Philhealth papers and ran back to the laboratory.  I was touched by the gesture of the nurse in the ARG when he saw my records and greeted me belated happy birthday as I marked my natal day the day before.  After blood samples were taken from me, I went to the canteen to eat as I was FAMISHED!

After breakfast, I went to the clinic for my PPD shot and met Ate Ellen who told me that I have to wait until 1 p.m. for my physical checkup and so I would know my  CD4 count. Darn! I was already done with my lab tests past 8 a.m. and I really didn't want to stay too long in RITM.  Having no choice, I decided to stay in the clinic where Ate Ellen was and got bored so I went to the ARG clinic to wait and also got bored. :(

I went back to Ate Ellen past 10 a.m. and luckily my CD4 count result was already forwarded to her. My CD4 count is now 457 from 409 in April last year.  I was downhearted upon learning of the minimal increase in my CD4 count but consoled myself with the thought that an increase is much better than a decrease.

Ate Ellen told me I could go home and the physical examination by the doctor on duty isn't really important unless I needed to consult the doc about something that I was suffering from - HIV-related ailments or what.  Ate Ellen told me she will just forward my CD4 count result to the doctor when he or she arrives at 1 p.m.

However, Ate Ellen noticed that I was wearing a charm bracelet then she told me I shouldn't have worn it in RITM since it would absorb the negative energy in the place. Argh! (I bought that bracelet in Binondo on Chinese New Year's Eve last February to protect me from harm, sicknesses, and other bad things and to attract money.) Well, that means I have to brace the sweltering heat and go to the shop in Binondo where I bought the bracelet to cleanse and re-energize it.  There goes my earlier plan to go home from RITM to rest. Sigh.

So, from RITM, I proceeded to Binondo to have my bracelet cleansed and re-energized in the shop where I bought it and asked if I should not wear the bracelet in a hospital.  The shop owner, a Filipino-Chinese lady, told me that generally speaking, I could bring it in a hospital since it would protect me from any negative energy or ailments while I am there but its "power" would wane a bit.  After having a quick lunch in Chinatown, I went home.  I arrived in my place at 1 p.m., took a shower right away and had a nap with a smile because of the good result of my CD4 count

Monday, April 1, 2013

Discrimination in one's family

I read awhile ago in a Facebook group created for PLHIVs, advocates and supporters about two young Filipino PLHIVs who have been ostracized/disowned/kicked out of their families. According to the post in that group, the two PLHIVs need temporary accommodations and food to sustain them.  They are both working and need a place to stay, something they can only do after office hours.  This isn't the first time I have come across such cases though.

Their situation makes me very sad and very angry at their families for doing such a thing.  It maybe due to ignorance of the manageable ailment, disgust, anger, denial or whatever.

It is very sad to learn when a young PLHIV, who has just learned of his status and is at a loss on how to deal with it, gets kicked out of his or her family, which should be the first one to support and understand him or her.

I don't mean to rub salt on those PLHIV's wounds, so to speak, but I am lucky that when I came out to my two siblings (we don't have parents anymore), they were devastated to learn of my status but they didn't have second thoughts giving their complete support and understanding.

This brings mean to the issue of coming out about one's status-to whom or when do we do it.  I believe that before a PLHIV, especially one who is newly-diagnosed, should come out to anyone, including his or her family, the PLHIV should be equipped with adequate knowledge of HIV and AIDS so that if questions arise from the person or persons the PLHIV comes out, he or she can give a sufficient answer.

Know the level of knowledge of the person or persons you plan to come out to. A PLHIV can do this without necessarily revealing his or her status but through general or generic questions.  From there, the PLHIV will determine if he or she can be trusted and he or she can be assured of that person's complete support, understanding and can be bound to secrecy.  I can say that the lesser a person knows about HIV and AIDS, the higher the likelihood or chance that person will discriminate a PLHIV.

A PLHIV should take time before coming out to anyone.  He or she should think it over several times before doing so.  Consider the pros and cons.  Be completely ready-emotionally and psychologically-in coming out.  It is not easy coming out to anyone about one's status.  I should know because I've been through it.

And lastly, Pray. Pray to Him for guidance, strength and help in what you will do.  Believe me, prayers can do wonders.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

A friend's unpleasant experience at RITM-ARG

Hello guys! So, how was your Lenten break or vacation? I hope everyone had a peaceful respite from the daily grind and managed to reflect or observe the Holy Week as solemnly as possible.  Mine went well and I stayed home most of the time and went to church to attend the Lenten activities or rites.

It's back to work for me today and it's been a slow day so far so I took the opportunity to update this blog.

Early this morning, I texted a PLHIV-friend of mine to ask how he was and coincidentally, he was at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine-Aids Research Group (RITM-ARG) this morning for his regular lab tests (CD4 count, CBC, etc.) and he complained that he was informed only last Saturday, a non-working holiday, that he needs to submit or have Philhealth membership documents already for his lab tests.  He was pissed off because he was only told about it last Saturday but how could he gather them when it was a holiday.  So the nurse in-charge asked for the Philhealth documents when he went to RITM this morning and he explained that he could not submit them since he was notified only last Saturday.  Good thing, he was allowed to take the lab tests and the Philhealth documents will just have to follow.

To backtrack a little, PLHIVs who are not taking ARVs like my friend are not covered by the Philhealth package for PLHIVs so they would have to pay for all the necessary tests like CD4, CBC, etc.  I guess that policy has now changed because my friend is now required to submit Philhealth papers so his laboratory tests would be taken care of by the government agency-regardless of he/she is taking ARVs already.

Anyway, like all other PLHIVs who are enrolled at RITM and have previously complained of the shabby treatment from ARG staff and bad service they get from the RITM-ARG, my friend has decided that he wouldn't want to go through the same kind of situation next time and has decided on the spot that he will transfer to Philippine General Hospital (PGH)-Aids Research Group.  He also said he has had enough of a nurse at RITM-ARG "who acts as if she owns RITM."  As of my last text, he is gathering all his records to bring them to PGH already.

I can imagine the legwork and stress my friend went through this morning and in working on his transfer from RITM to PGH.  Stress is a big no-no for PLHIVs.

With the bad experience of my friend, I hope I do not suffer the same at RITM-ARG when I go there for my CD4 and other so-called anniversary tests on April 11.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed.