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.

Friday, March 15, 2013

An indication

With social media websites like Twitter or Facebook, one can enjoy anonymity he or she wants - especially if one is a PLHIV.  You can have one real account and an alter-ego account.  I only have one real account each in Facebook and Twitter. I don't keep an alternate account for my "other" self - the PLHIV side of me.

The number of poz accounts on Twitter, as I observed, have grown the past 2 years. I joined Twitter in 2009 so I'm marking my 4th year on that website this year.

The poz accounts I've seen do not have the real pic of the owners as expected. It's either a caricature or some other photo. That's understandable because PLHIVs would rather keep their identity secret, considering the stigma and discrimination attached to those positive of the virus.

The increase in the number of poz accounts in Twitter also seems to reflect the growing number of PLHIVs in the country. Creating an alternate account is good because PLHIVs still need to interact or communicate with others, albeit online, under the cloak of anonymity or without baring their status. Talking it over, ranting or simply expressing one's thoughts on Twitter, or even on a blog (like I do in this blog), can help a PLHIV move on and accept his or her status.

So, if you need someone to talk to, just drop me a line here or via my email account and I will reply. :)

Sunday, March 3, 2013

US baby "cured" of HIV. Too premature yet to celebrate

One of the trending topics on Twitter was HIV so I clicked on it and found news reports about an American baby girl who was "functionally" cured of HIV.  Here's the news item: http://edition.cnn.com/2013/03/03/health/hiv-toddler-cured/index.html

By the way, I am always online in Twitter and in YM than in Facebook.  That's why I came across that article.

Anyway, I read through the new report. While I am happy that the toddler was cured of HIV via early intervention after she was administered antiretroviral drugs within several hours after delivery, we should be cautious yet about whether it will work also for adults.

I've seen tweets from people celebrating the medical development but I dare say that it is too early to do so. While early detection and intervention can work in adults in such a way that it can stop HIV from progressing into AIDS, the fact is that there is yet no cure at all for the ailment or no medicine that can kill the virus in an infected person's system.

We have to remember that ARVs can control the virus from multiplying much but it cannot, I repeat, it cannot get rid of the virus from a PLHIV's system.

I will only celebrate once an infected adult had been completely cured of HIV after several tests and that cure can be commercially available to PLHIVs at an affordable price.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Latest HIV stats - and the number keeps rising

I came across a tweet from Dr. Eric Tayag of the Department of Health (DOH) wherein he revealed the latest HIV statistics in the country, as follows:

"Doc Eric Tayag ‏@erictayagSays

#HIV alert: #DOH reports 380 new cases in January, the most number of new cases per month since 1984 Cumulative total now at 12,082."

Normally, I'd just shrug off the latest stats because I know that it would show a further increase in the number of HIV cases in the country but what caught my attention was the phrase - the most number of new cases per month since 1984.  1984 was when the first HIV case was recorded in the country.

If that isn't very alarming - then I dunno what it is. This means that more than 300 souls now harbor the virus that still has no cure. 380 persons who lives have been drastically changed. 380 persons who I am sure are going through a rough time dealing with their status.

It is very sad that the number of HIV cases in the country keeps rising and I think that it won't stop increasing anytime soon.  The Philippines is only one of 2 Asian countries where HIV cases are going up.

When will the government take drastic steps to stem the rising cases of HIV? Something needs to be done - and done fast.  Individually, we should find out our status as early as possible and strictly practice safe sex.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Goodbye and hello

Sounds like a movie title, huh.

I'm saying goodbye by March 1 to the old place I live in Makati City and say hello to a new pad.

It's a bittersweet goodbye because the old place harbors memories - both good and bad. It is in that old place that I was bedridden for almost a day when I contracted pneumonia and then hospitalized.  Luckily, I survived.  It was also in that same place that I went home crying my heart out after learning that of my status.

But life has to move on and I have a good feeling about the new place. It will be a fresh start and hopefully it will mostly be good times there.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


Much as I welcome the existence of non-government organizations (NGOs) dedicated to raising HIV awareness and helping stem the increase in HIV cases in the country, I can't help but be disappointed how personal interests, even egos, get in the way of coming up with a united front on the issue.

I'm talking of the feud between two famous groups that are separately engaged in the HIV and Aids campaign.  They'd come up with separate projects aimed at keeping the number of HIV cases in the country from reaching epidemic proportions.

From where I sit and after learning the respective sides of the 2 groups from people I know who are members of the two organizations, it is saddening to know that instead of working together so as to make their campaign more effective and wide-reaching, differences on how a project should be taken, personal issues, and pride are the obstacles to reaching that goal.

If only they'd realize that lives are at stake and they should unite to make sure that there are no more new cases of HIV infection and deaths due to HIV-related complications, then that would be such a welcome development.


I don't mean to be morbid by choosing Deaths as the title of this post but it best describes what the topic precisely is.

In the months that I was "away" from the blogosphere, I've heard of the demise of young guys due to HIV-related ailments and complications.  Two of those who passed away were dear friends.

One was more than 30 years old and a very good friend of mine.  He and I belonged to a Facebook group.  Before he passed away, I never knew he was HIV positive since he was full of life and ambition. Months before he died, he was in and out of the hospital because of ailments left and right. Then he expired.  I was completely speechless and shocked when I learned that he died at such a young age and I had a suspicion that he was a PLHIV.  My suspicion was confirmed by my friend's siblings, who revealed to me his status.  They told me my friend simply gave up on living and became depressed. He stopped taking ARVs, which led to health complications.  As a return gesture for revealing the status of my friend, I came out to them and we hugged each other.  It was such an emotional moment.  They would remind me every now and then to never give up like what their brother did.  They instantly became my "sisters."  We still keep in touch every now and then.

The second guy died at the age of 21. He was from the southern part of the metro. We encountered each other via Twitter as he had a poz account.  We never got to meet but we'd often chat with each other via YM.  Then a few months before he moved on, he was acting weird and complained of not feeling well.  The next thing I knew, he passed away several hours after he was rushed to his treatment hub.  I never knew the exact cause of his death but later learned from a common friend what he died of.  I will not reveal here the ailment he died of to protect his privacy and his family.  I was so saddened by his death and since I couldn't go to his wake, I had a Mass sponsored for the eternal repose of his soul.

Before my two friends died, I've been hearings of young guys dying left and right - presumably due to opportunistic infections.  Just last week, I learned that a guy in his early 30s, a model and a regular fixture in the local gay scene, died in a hospital.  I didn't know what he died of but I came across his Facebook profile.  I've seen him already - I told myself.

It is really sad to learn of young guys who have died due to HIV-related illnesses - either because they learned of their status too late and medical intervention couldn't help reverse the effects of HIV infections or worse, they didn't know their status at all.

This is where it is really important to know one's HIV status as early as possible. Like I did. And I am lucky that I survived a bout of pneumonia before I learned of my status in 2010 and thankful that medical intervention is keeping the virus in me at bay.  I am not rid of HIV but I have managed to "tame" it.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

RITM visit and an awkward encounter

As I mentioned last week, I went to RITM-ARG this morning to get my fresh supply of antiretrovirals (ARVs). I am taking efavirenz and lamivudine-zidovudine.

I left my place around 8:30 a.m. and expected to be at RITM at 10 a.m. and by then, I expected that there won't be many patients at the ARG by that time since CD4 and other laboratory tests were scheduled from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. only. I was wrong and I will get to that later.

It was quite a quick trip to Alabang except for traffic in certain areas of the South Luzon Expressway and I arrived in Alabang at 9:30. I took the FX to RITM and got in the facility almost 10 a.m. When I entered the clinic, there were about 10 other PLHIVs there, one of whom was an old friend of mine and it was only that moment I learned that he was a PLHIV also.  He was filling up Philhealth papers.  I learned that he was diagnosed in 2007 and into ARVs too.  Frankly, it was an awkward meeting and we just exchanged pleasantries for a short while.  Awkward because of the discovery that we were both PLHIVs and we didn't know what to tell each other or how to start telling our sob story.

My friend resumed filling up Philhealth papers while I sat nearby and preoccupied myself with my phones.  Within a 20-minute waiting period, 10 more guys entered the RITM-ARG and I told myself: Whoa, there are really many PLHIVs already. The ARG was getting too crowded so it was a good thing that my name was called and after getting the papers I needed, I went to the pharmacy to get my ARV supply.

I stayed in RITM for less than an hour.  After getting my ARVs, I proceeded to Festival Mall to have snacks and then went home to Makati. During the bus ride home from Alabang to Makati, I felt sad because of the reality that the HIV situation in the country has gone from bad to worse as evidenced by the many PLHIVs we now have.  I recalled way back in 2010 that the ARG won't get too crowded with many patients unlike now.

With the number of PLHIVs growing by leaps and bounds, the sense of privacy in government-run treatment hubs (THs) is now non-existent.  I should seriously consider moving to another TH soon where there's more privacy for PLHIVs like me.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

How do I explain my need for a CF1 document

Every three months or at regular intervals, PLHIVs like me who visit their government-run treatment hub (THs) need to present the Philhealth CF1 (Claim Form 1) to be able to avail of the OHAT package that Philhealth gives so as to get free antiretrovirals and undergo lab tests free of charge.

And a common predicament faced by PLHIVs who ask for it from their administrative or human resources department is how to explain why the need to secure the document.

Luckily for me, I head the administrative/HR department of our company so I just fill up the CF1 form and have it signed by our general manager. No questions asked of me but I tell my boss what the CF1 is for. But what about those who need to explain  to their administrative or HR officers?

Here are 2 tips I can share:

*Explain that you are paying for the Philhealth contribution of a dependent (parent, unemployed sibling, wife or kid) so you need to get it every 3 months.  I use this as reason.

*You need to present the CF1 form for your regular checkup.  Ask your TH to make a document stating that you need to undergo a checkup every three months for a respiratory ailment or anything the doctor or TH staff can think of without giving away your HIV status.

I hope this can be of help to you out there who need a reason to explain the need for a CF1.

Monday, February 11, 2013

About taking ARVs

"Di ko pa need mag-ARV (antiretroviral). So happy."

So goes a tweet I read from an account of a PLHIV. I have a Twitter account but I am not out with regard my HIV status in that account.

While I am happy for that PLHIV, whose Twitter account I shall not name, that he needs not take ARVs (for now) probably because his CD4 count is still way beyond the threshold of 350, I believe that even if one's CD4 count is still above normal, it is best to take ARVs to make sure that a PLHIV doesn't contract an opportunistic infection (OI) during the lull from one CD4 test to another.

From what I know, in the US, PLHIVs take ARVs even if their CD4 count is way above the threshold. It is only in the Philippines where a PLHIV is required to take ARV already and they have remained healthy with minimal to no incidence of OIs for a long time.

I have been taking ARVs - Lamivudine-Zidovudine and Efavirenz - since April 2010.  So far, I haven't had any serious OI or health setback.

While I do understand that taking ARVs would require a PLHIV's strict adherence to taking it, "an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure", so they say.

I believe that taking ARV, along with regular exercise, a healthy daily diet, getting enough sleep, taking multivitamins, cutting any unhealthy vices like smoking, and keeping oneself happy most of the time (no to depression!) would ensure that a PLHIV's CD4 count remains high.

Thursday, February 7, 2013


And what the heck is BTDT, some of you out there would ask?

It's "been there, done that." I came across that acronym for an oft-repeated phrase in a recent conversation with a friend.

I use the acronym BTDT to refer to the aggressiveness of newly-diagnosed PLHIVs in helping stem the rising cases of HIV and Aids through counselling, pushing for taking a HIV test and blogging.

It's actually nice to see more and more PLHIVs blogging about their experience, sharing info and even advice especially to those newly-diagnosed.  I too went through that stage until work took up most of my free time especially after I got promoted and was moved to daytime schedule.  Writing down your thoughts can help one cope with and accept one's status, especially if you've just learned about it.

So, I can say I've "been there, done that."

Now it's time for the others to "shine". :D

Reposting - Terminologies clarified

In the past, I've come across news reports and people who use HIV victim/sufferer or AIDS victim/sufferer and even terms like HIV/AIDS, which are actually incorrect.

So to be politically-correct, let me mention here that there is no such term as HIV or AIDS victim or sufferer. They are called person living with HIV (PLHIV) or person living with AIDS (PLWA). This is also meant to be more humane to those who have contracted the virus.

It would also be wise to refrain from writing HIV and AIDS as HIV/AIDS or HIV-AIDS because they are two entirely different matters. HIV refers to the virus that causes AIDS. AIDS, on the other hand, is a condition characterized by progressive failure of one's immune system, thus resulting in life-threatening opportunistic infections (OIs) like pneumonia, tuberculosis, meningitis, and cancers to thrive. It's the last stage of HIV infection.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Visiting RITM again

I'm scheduled to go to RITM-ARG on February 13 to get a fresh supply of ARVs (Efavirez, Lamivudine-Zidovudine).

If it weren't that important to my health, I wouldn't want to go to RITM because of the distance, hassle of going there and coming from there, and dealing with certain staffers at the ARG who I don't like. Sigh

My next visit would be on April 11 for my anniversary tests and CD4 count.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Transferring to another TH?

I've long considered moving to another treatment hub (TH) but kept on postponing it because of the legwork and paperwork it would entail but after the new policies being implemented in RITM-ARG and the loss of the homely atmosphere the ARG used to have, I think I will be moving to another hub soon.

I live and work in Makati City so any hub that's nearer to me would be more convenient.

I'm eyeing MMC, PGH or TMC as hubs I will transfer to.  Anybody knows what steps do I need to take?

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Makati City support group

This is something I had long been planning to do but it just couldn't take off for one reason or another but maybe this time, it might just be realized.

Just a month or two after I learned in early 2010 that I was HIV positive, I had decided to embark on a personal campaign to help in the HIV-Aids awareness efforts of both the public and private sector through counselling online or in a one-on-one setting or setting up a support group for PLHIVs working or living in Makati City.

I feel that there is a need for a support group for those of us working or living in Makati City as a means to support each other, bond with each other, share experiences and get advice. As I had planned, the group can meet twice a month or increase the frequency if and when the need arises in the future.

What do you think, guys? Do share your sentiments.

More and more cases

I've been following the monthly reports by the National Epidemiology Center (NEC) of the Department of Health (DOH) on the HIV-Aids cases in the country and all I can say is: Sigh

There are more and more new cases recorded in the country, which happens to be one of the few nations where HIV cases are on the rise unlike in others where a downtrend is noted.

The government should really do something to stem the tide before it is too late.

By the way, I was diagnosed in March 26, 2010 so it will be almost three years since I learned of my HIV status and my  so-called "rebirth" happened.

Crazy policy at RITM-ARG

I don't know exactly when it was implemented but I believe it was in the middle or past middle of last year.  I am referring to the new policy at the Aids Research Group (ARG) at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) whereby those who would undergo CD4 count should be at the clinic between 7 and 8 a.m. from that time on.  No CD4 count requests will be entertained after that.  If a PLHIV misses his CD4 count appointment, he or she will have to take the next one SIX MONTHS AFTER. I call that crazy but I will get to that in awhile.

Let me digress for a moment.  In the past, CD4 counts are done every Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays at RITM and PLHIVs who need to go through it have until 10 a.m. to do so. It was good and didn't need to be changed until last year. As they say, if it ain't broke, why fix it?

Anyway, when I went to the RITM-ARG sometime August or September last year, I was surprised to find an announcement on the way setting a new schedule for CD4 count. Weekdays and between 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. only. Okay, I told myself, I will just have to get up really early when I'm due to have my CD4 count (the last one I had in April last year was 407 or 409).

I talked to Nurse Maram (in-charge of laboratory tests for PLHIVs) and she informed me of the new policy so my CD4 count was set on October 26, 2012. She asked for my contact number so she can text and remind me of it prior to the date it is supposed to be done.

Unfortunately, I forgot all about my CD4 schedule because I was really busy at work and I didn't receive any text from RITM-ARG reminding me about it as Nurse Maram had assured me. So I texted Ate Ellen and Ate Beth or RITM-ARG if I can have it reset to November or December at the latest. They referred the matter to Nurse Maram who adamantly rejected my request to reschedule my CD4 count to April 11, 2013. Geez!

Now my concern is this: what if my CD4 on October last year had dropped dangerously low which I will never know because Nurse Maram said I can only have my next CD4 count in April. And what if something bad happened to me because my CD4 was already very low and it wasn't known because Nurse Maram rejected my request to have it reset to November or December.  Nurse Maram is to blame for it.

Anyway, I hope the RITM-ARG would think of possible scenarios relative to a change in any policy or rules that might put a PLHIV at a disadvantage.  Lives are at stake here.  They should always be aware of that.


February 19, 2012. Almost a year since my last post in this blog that I am revisiting and will update as much as I can from now on.

Work has mostly kept me from writing here and keeping you, my followers, posted on what's going on with me. I still work and live here in Makati City and still loving my job - no to burnout. :)

And as I write here again, this will be the first of three new articles I will be posting. :)