Thursday, August 01, 2013

It's Time: by Manila Gay Guy

ED: This post was originally written in 2011 by Manila Gay Guy. It still rings true even today.

It starts like a painless prick in the mind — HIV? Me? Nah.
Then after a while, you remember those crazy times in the past. Yeah, you think, crazy but not too crazy as to put me at risk. Besides, the probability of getting it is too low. Malinis naman sila, I’m sure.You continue to attempt convincing yourself.
Time pass and you’re mostly successful in keeping those HIV thoughts at bay. Yet there were times, admit it, that the prick in the mind becomes a bit more intense. Did I really do it bareback? Can’t remember na. May condom naman yata. Yata? Shit, can’t remember na talaga.
Now it’s selective memory lapse. You think you were safe naman, most of the time, at the least. But you can’t seem to get the doubt off your mind. Suddenly, you don’t know, it is not clear if you really were safe.
Everytime you see those three letters HIV, there’s a slight skip in your heartbeat, a little lump in your throat forming. I think I have it. Maybe I have it. What if I have it?
It’s a creepy little bastard, because like a thief in the night, it blindsides you: you have started to trim your life plans and water down your dreams to accommodate the assumption that, maybe, you think, you feel, you have it. It’s a painless thought at first, a dull feeling after a while, but the longer you stay in the dark, the heavier it feels.
You busy yourself with stuff, with work, with parties, with anything that can fill your mind and keep it from focusing on HIV. Fuck that blog, now the only thing it talks about is HIV. You distract yourself to the hilt only to find a big white snorting elephant stuck in the meandering grooves of your brain. HIV, HIV, HIV, fuck.
You search online for symptoms. Fever, flu-like symptoms, rashes, diarrhea, but not for all, sometimes none at all. Symptoms only when it has advanced to AIDS, when the body has given up, when the virus has totally taken over. Scary shit. You slam a closed fist on the table, why wasn’t I careful kasi.
You consider getting yourself tested. You’re scared like a little kid about to get spanked, closing your eyes before you hear the leather belt whip and welt your skin.
You realize there is really no way out but through. If I don’t have HIV and I’m suffering this way, fuck, I’m such a worry wart punishing myself for nothing. If I do have HIV and I’m standing here doing nothing about it, then I’m really just letting this foul-smelling fear immobilize me. Like committing the most gradual suicide by slicing myself up part-by-little-part.
Part of you triumphs saying, it’s time. It’s time to unload the baggage. It’s time to use this energy, now in the form of fear, to propel myself forward. It’s time that I face that fear, ready to battle it tooth and nail.
* * *
Have you been thinking of getting tested? Perhaps you are not ready yet for testing but you want to talk to someone about it? Here’s the event for you. First, you will find here friendly, professional, and well-trained HIV educators and counselors. And, secondly, the event is scheduled on a Friday! And very importantly, it will be held in a private (not in a government clinic) and discreet location, for your own privacy and convenience.

What: HIV Confidential Counseling and Testing – it’s FREE! No charge!
When: Friday, September 20, 5pm to 1am (next day)
Where: Makati Friendship Suites, Makati City (location map: http://go.LoveYourself.ph/QuickieMap )

Some frequently asked questions (FAQs):
1. I am afraid to go for testing, I think I’m not ready yet. Can I still go and just talk to someone without getting myself tested?
Absolutely. There will be trained HIV educators and counselors there that you can talk to. They will respect your feelings, and if you feel you are not ready to go for your HIV testing, that’s okay. There is value in just talking things out, so come.
2. How much does it cost if I go to this event?
The HIV counseling is free of charge. The HIV testing is also free of charge. You do not need to pay for anything. Love Yourself is subsidizing the conduct of this event, and if you want to help by donating, you are free to do so. Otherwise, everything is free.
3. What should I bring?
You are not required to bring anything. You will not be asked for an ID.
4. Since it will be a blood test, should I not eat anything before? Is there fasting involved?
It is a blood test, yes, but there are no prerequisites such as fasting or no-alcohol diet, etc. The test will look for HIV antibodies in your blood, and eating food or drinking anything will not affect the results.
5. This is my first HIV test. I do not know what will happen during the test. How will the HIV testing process go?
Congratulations for making the brave decision to take the test. Watch this video:

Other questions? Email help@loveyourself.ph

- MGG