Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Gibbs Cadiz: "I dodged a bullet."

Gibbs Cadiz, Lifestyle desk editor and editorial writer at the Philippine Daily Inquirer, recently took his first HIV test. We feature below his honest and wonderful storytelling. Gibbs is a supporter of The Love Yourself Project.

I had long danced around the idea of taking the test, for one simple reason: I was terrified. Despite my conscientious efforts otherwise, I have had occasional lapses of my own when it came to risky bedroom behavior. All these years the specter of the virus had seemed quite remote, abstract to me. I comforted myself in the thought that I was not into the alcohol-soaked scene, I didn't do drugs or Ecstasy parties and so had never lost my faculties in the haze of intoxication, had never frequented the bathhouse, took relatively good care of my health, and, at 40, has never had a major illness or health breakdown requiring hospital care.

But who knew, really? Those occasional lapses were troubling enough, but just this year the subject became alarmingly starker, more personal when a number of friends, and friends and friends, revealed they had gotten the virus. Too, the anecdotal stories were piling up--about otherwise young, healthy gay men around the metro who were suddenly getting sick or dropping like flies from suspicious-sounding causes, pneumonia chief among them. One moment you saw them hale and hearty at the gym or our (wholesome, I must assert) Fabcasters parties, the next you saw their Facebook accounts peppered with goodbye messages. Chilling.

There's no way around the truth: It's here... Truth to tell, I had absolutely no idea how I would react if the test proved positive. At the back of my mind, I knew it was a possibility--one friend swore he engaged in risky sex only once in his life, and yet he got it--but I couldn't get that far ahead in terms of imagining how my life would have to change if push did come to shove. It wasn't myself I was too worried about; I knew I could, surely after some period of self-anger, blame and regret, get around eventually to a sort of rapprochement with the new reality. It's the thought of telling the people around me, of having to burden them with my condition--my mother and family, especially--that cut at me deeply.

Read the full article here.