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the_advocate: Living a new life

When the_advocate was diagnosed to be HIV positive in 2012, he was not completely surprised, considering his unsafe sexual practices. He is now looking at helping others gain awareness about HIV,as he thinks of “imparting my life to other people to help them with the awareness of possible infection. I guess being an advocate will be my ultimate reason why I am in this state.”

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 editor@outragemag.com, or call (+63) 9287854244 and (+63) 9157972229.

the_advocate was diagnosed to be HIV positive in 2012, in what he remembered as “a routine test during one of our annual or twice a year tests,” he said.

But the_advocate was not completely surprised when he tested HIV positive.

“I believe I got it (because of my) unsafe sexual practices,” he said, adding that he recalled that he was not only promiscuous then, but that “I was too trusting”. Meaning, he trusted (too much) his sexual partners when they claimed they were HIV negative, “just taking their words (as truths).”

the_advocate noted that – prior to him getting tested for HIV – he also just came out of a failed relationship. “I was betrayed and fooled,” he recalled, “so that having multiple sexual partners was a way for me to move on; it was almost like a retaliation move.”

With his sexual partners, the_advocate recalled simply going with the urge. “There were times when I wasn’t really aware; it was more (of simply giving in to) the urge.”

And because “I know I have been engaging in unsafe sexual practices, so when i got it, I said: ‘This is the prize’,”

After testing HIV positive, the_advocate immediately told his siblings. “I told them I am sorry,” he recalled. “They cried and hugged me.” But the_advocate is not big on disclosure. “I don’t like to disclose my situation to other people,” he said, adding that his small circle on-the-know includes “my attending doctors, co-PLHIVs in the (treatment) hub, and my siblings… I guess that’s more than enough. At least for now.” None of his friends know of his HIV status.

the_advocate now takes ARVs. “I opted to get meds for practical reasons,” he said. “First, for me to improve my immune system. At least this way I can be safer from (illnesses).”

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the_advocate is thankful that his situation brought him closer to God as it strengthened his faith; and to his family.

For the_advocate, “I think the biggest challenge (I faced in being HIV positive) is in facing the reality and how to handle it,” he said. But having somewhat moved on, he is now keenly considering how he can “help others be aware (about) HIV,” he said. “I am thinking of imparting my life to other people to help them with the awareness of possible infection. I guess being an advocate will be my ultimate reason why I am in this state.”

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