Thursday, October 28, 2010

Confidentiality of HIV status

For a person who is HIV-positive like me, disclosing one's status to the immediate family and even to friends can be such an emotional, even psychological burden, because you can never tell how they will take it. Will they still accept you? Will they disown you? Will they shy away from you or be scared of you? One also has to consider the effect it will have on a family member who has frail health - whether young or old - if you disclose your HIV status. There are many things to think about before disclosing it.

So, it really pains and angers me when I hear of someone who carelessly tells someone else the HIV-positive status of a person, regardless of the intentions. And with what has happened, the damage has been done to the HIV-positive individual concerned and you can never take back or erase what you said like it written on a blackboard. Careless disclosure of a person's HIV-positive status may even have far-reaching consequences not only on him/her but on that person's family also. The privacy of the HIV-positive person should be respected and upheld.

Section 3 (b) (2) of Republic Act 8504 or the Philippine Aids Prevention and Control Act of 1998 provides that the right to privacy of individuals with HIV/Aids shall be guaranteed by the state. But let me stress that this does not only cover the state or the government but everyone as well.

It pays to be really careful and think many, many times before telling a friend about your HIV-positive status. Is this friend really trustworthy or is he/she be a blabbermouth?

For those who have been told by a person that he/she is HIV-positive, respecting the confidential nature of the status of a person living with HIV (PLHIV) can help unload in some way the emotional and/or psychological burden of the individual concerned instead of making things bad for him/her.

A very serious matter

I am reposting here what I had posted in two threads on HIV/Aids:

I just want to share this information to show how bad the HIV/Aids situation in the country is becoming.

As of September 2010, the HIV/Aids registry has recorded 153 new cases of HIV infection in the Philippines, and 4 out 5 of the new cases are men having sex with men (MSM). This was a 50 percent increase from the previous month (108 in August) and a 173 percent increase compared to the same period last year.

For more details, click on this link ---->>

Let's all do our part to actively promote safe sex and spread awareness of HIV/Aids and other sexually-transmitted infections (STIs).

Friday, October 15, 2010

479; 137!

As I mentioned in my previous post, I had second CD4 count yesterday (Friday) after my 1st one last April. It was also time to have my CBC because I had been having low hemoglobin count since last June.

I got home at 6.30 a.m. yesterday from work, took a quick nap and went off at 7.45 a.m. to my treatment hub - Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) in Alabang. I was nervous during the bus ride because I wasn't sure of what my new CD4 count and CBC results would be. The slow traffic at Edsa near the Magallanes interchange and at the Sucat intersection on Osmena highway added to my anxiety. I had to be at RITM before 9 a.m. because CD4 counts there are only done up to 10 a.m. I reached the Alabang area past 8.30 a.m. and arrived at RITM a few minutes before 9 a.m. I dropped by the clinic for pozzies to get my prescription notes for my CD4 and CBC, rushed to the laboratory and had them before 9.45 a.m. since there were also some other pozzies ahead of me who were scheduled to have their CD4 count too.

As a backgrounder, a CD4 count is done for HIV-positive individuals and it determines the remaining CD4 or t-helper cells in the body. When one has HIV, the virus depletes the body of CD4 or t-helper cells, whose primary function is to fight viruses and bacteria in the body. When something is not done to slow down the virus from depleting the body of CD4 or t-helper cells, it makes the person prone to all sorts of ailments.

After I had my tests, I went to the lounge for pozzies to relax and wait for the results, bonded with the lounge staff and other pozzies who were there, had lunch at the RITM cafeteria and was called to the clinic at past 2 p.m. My CBC results were in and my hemoglobin count went up from 135 last month to 137! Yey! I hope it is a precursor of my CD4 count results, which were not in yet and would be know later yet. My hemoglobin count was being monitored because from 153 in April, it went down to the 120s range starting last June, a side effect of one of the antiretrovirals (ARVs) I was taking. So, I was prescribed ferrous sulfate and told to eat green, leafy veggies and cooked animal liver (eww).

I got home past 4 p.m., so sleepy but anxious to know my CD4 count so I called up Ate Ana of the RITM clinic and she relayed to me the good news. My CD4 count has gone up! It's now 479! My first CD4 count last April was 315. I was ecstatic and said a prayer of thanks.

I wasn't really optimistic of getting a high CD4 count because even if I was already taking ARVs and living a healthy lifestyle (eating well, getting enough sleep, taking vitamins daily, etc.), I had been depressed and under quite heavy stress from work and after learning of my status last April. Depression and stress can wreak havoc on one's immune system so for an immuno-compromised person, he or she has to manage it well. So it was really a big relief when I learned that my CD4 had gone up and my hemoglobin count was on its way to recovery.

I slept with a smile and fitfully at that last night. Thanks to the good news I got. :)

Good news - UNAIDS welcomes US$11.B commitment by donors to the Global Fund

Reposted from blogger I am HIV positive. Now, this is positive news (pardon the pun)!


UNAIDS welcomes US$11.B commitment by donors to the Global Fund

GENEVA, 5 October 2010 –– The UNAIDS welcomes commitments made by donors at the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria’s replenishment conference in New York, which was chaired this year by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

The United States led the donations—pledging the largest ever financial commitment to the Global Fund, US$4 billion over three years––a 38 percent increase over the preceding three year period. More than 40 countries, including countries with emerging economies, private foundations and corporations committed more than US$11.7 billion for the next three years to fund health programs for the three diseases.

“These pledges come at a critical time. We are just starting to see returns on investments with new infections coming down in most high-burden countries and more people than ever on antiretroviral treatment,” said Michel SidibĂ©, Executive Director of UNAIDS. “This is a significant and necessary first milestone, but insufficient to meet aspirations. Public and private donors must continue to mobilize resources in order to secure future progress in the AIDS response.”

Despite the record pledges to the Global Fund there is still an overall funding shortfall for the AIDS response. For the first time in 15 years, overall AIDS funding has flat lined. This raises serious concerns on future progress as a slowing in investments will negatively impact the AIDS response.

It is estimated that nearly 2.8 million people are accessing treatment through financing provided by the Global Fund, more than half of the people on treatment today. However there are nearly 10 million people living with HIV who urgently need treatment. Five people are newly infected with HIV for every two people who start treatment.

Large scale investments in the AIDS response have produced encouraging results. At the MDG summit in New York two weeks ago, UNAIDS revealed new data showing that HIV infections have declined by more than 25% in 22 countries most affected by AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa; and with nearly 5.2 million people on antiretroviral therapy, AIDS related deaths have fallen.


Monday, October 11, 2010


Come Friday will be my 2nd CD4 count. Along with it, I will also have my CBC since my hemoglobin count had been low last May, June and July - it was in the 120s range. Thankfully, my CBC went up last month to 135.

What is CD4 anyway and what role does it play in the body? defines CD4 cells as cells that have molecules called CD4 on its surface. The same website also says CD4 cells, otherwise known as "helper" cells, initiate the body's response to invading micro-organisms such as viruses.

From my first CD4 count of 315, I am keeping my fingers crossed that my CD4 has gone up. ChemistryGuy told me that efavirenz, one of the antiretrovirals that I am taking, helps boost the CD4 count. Well, I hope so but I also learned that there has to be some effort also on the part of the pozzie to help it go up e.g., getting enough sleep, taking vitamins, evading too much stress, and eating well.

I see to it that I get enough sleep, I eat well and take vitamins. However, my work sked (I am on night shift) might affect my CD4 count. And I haven't been exactly free from stress and emotional turmoil the past few months.

Well, let's wait and see. And if my CD4 count has fallen, I am confident of the intervention that the doctor would prescribe for me to help it go up before my 3rd CD4 count scheduled in April next year.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

When forgetting can be a good thing

It was on March 26 or six months and one and a half weeks ago when I learned that I had this nasty virus in my system and for the next several weeks after that fateful day, I went through a range of emotions - grief, anger, guilt, self-pity, numbness....been there, done that, so to speak.

Even if I had been counseled and briefed by the nurse who talked to me after I was told of the reactive result of the rapid test, I was scared shit of what's in store for me. Will I live a "normal" life from then on? Am I going to die anytime soon? What will my family and friends say if they knew? How could I have allowed this to happen? So many questions in my mind that needed answers. Good thing my partner was there to comfort me as he continuously assured me that nothing has changed and he is standing by me despite my medical condition.

But everything just fell in the right places and at the right time. I was living a "normal" life again by seeing to it that I adhere to my medical regimen and to a healthy lifestyle. There were minor setbacks but I overcame them. Circumstances happened that allowed me to come out to my family and to selected friends in and out of the gay community and in return, I got so much love and support from them. I have embarked and continue to carry out my personal advocacy for HIV/Aids awareness in my own little way. It warms my heart whenever I am told or when I receive email from pozzies and those who are negative of the virus how much I inspire them after reading my blog. Being able to assist pozzies, especially the new ones who need advice, guidance, assurance and encouragement, makes me happy and bring a smile to my face.

Right now, I can say I have happily embraced my health status. The proof of it is that there are times I even forget that I am HIV-positive. This is one instance when forgetting can be a good thing. It is the minor ailments related to my medical condition and scheduled visits to my treatment hub that remind me of it - that "bring me back to earth."

The bottom-line is that inspite of this challenge, I am moving on with life.