This is part of “More than a Number”, which Outrage Magazine launched on March 1, 2013 to give a human face to those infected and affected by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) in the Philippines, what it considers as “an attempt to tell the stories of those whose lives have been touched by HIV and AIDS”. More information about (or – for that matter – to be included in) “More than a Number”, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (+63) 9287854244 and (+63) 9157972229.
@poz_hero found out his HIV-positive status in June 2012. At that time, “I was curious to know what my status was,” he recalled, considering that he had an inkling he was positive, “but (at the same time, I thought that I may be mistaken) because I did not have the stereotypical built (associated with being) PLHIV.” @poz_hero, nonetheless, now admits “being promiscuous back then”, so after reading a post on Facebook about confidential HIV testing, he sent a message to a service provider. “And though I was hesitant at first, I somehow found the courage to (get tested),” he recalled.
Upon knowing his HIV positive status, “I was shocked. I was surprised,” @poz_hero said. “I (still) never thought that I’d be positive. As the counselor stated, I was non-reactive to hepatitis and syphilis, but when he said that I testes reactive to HIV, I was surprisingly shocked.”
Like many before him, @poz_hero also thought that “my life would end easily; I was thinking when I will die.” He nonetheless found his situation sardonic. “For me it was funny at the same time because (I was thinking that) there will be no thrill at all on what I’ll die of/from; just some opportunistic infections due to HIV.”
But life has changed for @poz_hero since then.
“Being HIV positive affected my life big time. I learned how to take extra good care of myself – now I always think if it would be beneficial for my health to do something I used to do.”
@poz_hero did not intend to disclose his status to others, thinking that “maybe if the right time comes, maybe I would,” he said. But when he started taking ARV (trial period for Nevirapine), he had symptoms that forced him getting hospitalized. At that time, “I had a full body rashes, 41° fever, seizures, et cetera. That was the time I confessed (my status) to my Mom. I was crying the whole time, but my Mom didn’t cry. She just said that it’s okay; that at least it’s not like cancer which (could kill one soon).”
His mom’s reaction “affected my relationship with my mom big time, and in a good way,” @poz_hero said. “As mother and son, we’re not fond of dramas, but now, we always talk to each other, eat out, and bond most of the time.”
@poz_hero now gets support from his mother, as well as from the friends he gained from the self-empowerment training conducted by RITM for PLHIV. He similarly met HIV positive friends through Twitter.
On taking ARV drugs, @poz_hero said that they may be unpleasant because it is done forever, “but it’s pleasant at the same time because it helps you prolong your life.”
As an HIV-positive person, the best lesson @poz_hero can teach others is for people to be wise. “Always think before you do something that you will regret in the future. But never regret or blame someone in your past. In the first place, you know for a fact that for every thing you do, there will always be a consequence that comes right next to it,” he said. “Accept, move on and learn.”