I am JaKePositive...I am a Homosexual...I am a Filipino...I am a Proud Ilonggo... I am HIV + since June 2010... I started my ARV Treatment May 4,2013 since my CD4 dropped to 107... I am here to RAISE AWARENESS... I am here to ENCOURAGE HIV TESTING... I am here to SUPPORT MY BROTHER'S and SISTER'S who are living with HIV... I am an ADVOCATE FOR CHANGE...

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Question & Answer

1. At what point in your life have you gone for a HIV test, and have you been made aware that you are HIV positive, and are now living with HIV/AIDS? 

>     I got tested for HIV by accident. Prior to the test I had Sexually Transmitted Infection and that prompted me to see a doctor. After the consultation he immediately asked me to get tested for HIV. I followed his request and took the test the same day.
Without the Sexually Transmitted infection I think now I would still not be aware of my status.
Within a week the Medical technologist informed me that the initial screening turned out positive and she told me that they will be forwarding it to another hospital to do the confirmatory/western blot test. I waited for 2-3 weeks and when the result was released I immediately claimed it and then there, WESTERN BLOT revealed REACTIVE for HIV.
I never imagined me becoming HIV positive.

2. What was the reaction of your family, community and neighbors to your HIV status?

>     With my family, my mother was the most affected. I saw her cry several times for a week. It was so much for her to take that’s why she really can’t contain her feelings and vented it out with some of my relatives who also knew my HIV status. With my father there was not really much of a reaction, I think my dad was very understanding and he knew that there was no place for sermons and so he just kept quiet but even though I haven’t heard a thing from him but still he showed compassion and love with me since he was the only one who accompanies me during weekends at my apartment.
I also start to disclose my status with friends whom I know I can trust and so far I haven’t got any negative feedback or stigma and discrimination from them. They accepted my condition wholeheartedly and ever since we became closer with each other.
With the community, I am starting to do disclosing my status through testimonials. But before that I make sure that an HIV 101 lecture was done and they were corrected with the right information. And right after I say my story I entertain their questions and answer them direct to the point and with the facts.

3. What are your experiences of living with HIV? 

>     My experiences as a person living with HIV was a very challenging part because I there were a  lot of things running in my head and there were times that I cannot sleep and sometimes  I just cry because I don’t know what to do.
It took a while before I came up to a realization that I have to accept my condition and move on with life. And ever since then I became very OPTIMISTIC with life. 

4. What is your take on people who got or transmitted HIV “innocently” (by means of being born with it; or transmitted through criminally or these people might not have known that their partner was HIV positive) or “guilty” (by means of sharing drug needles, prostituting themselves, sleeping around) and find themselves living with HIV/AIDS? 

>      With children being born with HIV I think it would be hard for them in the future knowing their status and also its very hard to start the medications. But still God gave them life and they deserve respect, care &love from the people around them.
Well I myself acquired the virus without knowing who gave it to me. I did have two suspects and I did inform them about my status but I haven’t got any response from them weather they submitted themselves for testing or confirm that they are already HIV positive. It could also be that they don’t know their HIV status also.
But for me it doesn’t matter anymore, what is important is I did inform them about my status and it’s up to them to get themselves tested. HIV testing here in the Philippine is Voluntary and so you cannot force a person to get tested if he doesn’t want to.
I think addiction could sometimes be hard to handle and so we cannot blame them, but we just have to inform them that they could still do it but with proper precaution and that is without sharing needles to prevent infection. And also addiction cannot be stopped right away since it could trigger withdrawal symptoms all we have to do is provide them safe equipments and possibly talk them out of the addiction, consult a doctor and have rehabilitation.
With people who engage in prostitution well we cannot blame them if that’s the only job that they are comfortable doing but let us just provide them proper information on how to protect themselves and also their customers.
With people who sleep around I think it also involves addiction, we just need to inform them also the same thing, how to protect themselves and their partners.
They are all human beings and whatever their lifestyle is, whatever their profession is and whatever activities that are “taboo” to the society, they still deserve the equal amount of respect like how we treat our families, friends and people we love.

5. How do you handle your HIV status, are you still the same person, or is there a difference of opinion of how these other people see you? (Like family, friends, religiously minded people, and your community)?

>     I’m still human so basically I can do what a HIV negative person can do. I am still the same person as before, but just more wiser, empowered, strong and full of optimism.
My family still treats me the same although at first I felt some discrimination like; I have my own eating utensils, own glass, own bathroom (if that was possible), but eventually they were able to understand my condition and I was able to correct their misconceptions.
With friends, they see me as a stronger person and they admire me because I was able to move on with my life.
With other people whom I was able to disclose my status, I do receive a lot of commendations for speaking out and telling my story to them and I feel the warmth of them accepting me for who I am as a person living with HIV.

6. Is your religion (that is, the pastors, priest or the imam, religious scripture) antagonist (that is do they vilify, point out stigmatize these people) or sympathetic (help, support and counsel them) to people living with HIV/AIDS?

>     I am a Roman Catholic and it’s a very conservative religion. Church leaders are entitled to their own opinion and I don’t have anything against them. What I want them to do is to adjust themselves and be open for change and also be able to influence the people to accept one another regardless of sexual preference and also in my case accept me as a person living with HIV without judging where I came from.
I do know several congregations that provide care and support for us people living with HIV and I just wish that more religious congregations would reach out their hands as well.

7. As an individual living with HIV, did you experience any stigma because you have it (HIV/AIDS); that is were you seen as an “outsider” or “outcast” because you tested HIV positive and for your disclosure of it?

>     With regard to STIGMA and DISCRIMINATION, I did have several experiences. When my relatives knew that I tested positive they were afraid that I might pass the infection to their children and so they decided to transfer me to an apartment. I stayed there for 2months alone. But during weekends my dad sleeps there and we do weekend bonding like watching movie and also stroll around the mall.
I was first angry at them because I was thinking that I don’t deserve that kind of treatment. Acceptance is a process and you can’t expect everyone to accept you right away knowing your status and the stigma that attached to it.
Eventually they were able to accept me.

8. When or why have you “opened up” about disclosing your status and have taken an initiative to tell the community or your family that you have tested HIV positive and what was their response?

>     My family found out my status several weeks after I was diagnosed. My mother inspected my belongings and she was able to see my CONFIRMATORY test result and she cornered me, asking me to explain the result. And so I disclosed my status and at the same time I disclosed to them that I am a Homosexual.
They had a lot of questions but I was able to answer it honestly and they were shocked by my answers.
With regards to disclosing to the community I believe that through my testimonials, people will be aware that HIV is here and it’s not going anywhere unless we do our part to correct misconceptions and also to educate for education is the most powerful weapon that we have, it’s just not been used properly. With consistent Advocacy accompanied with people stepping out to share their story people will be influenced to create change to themselves and to their community.

9. What advice can you give to those who feel sad or depressed, angry because they tested positive for HIV; or those who might deny their HIV status, they pretend that nothing is wrong; as well as what kind of advice can you give to those who might experience some difficulty in disclosing their HIV status or to tell their stories?

>     It is very hard and the pain is incomparable. Depression is normal but what is important is we have someone whom we can hang on to, to share how/what we feel and to just vent out all the emotions that we keep and store for a long time. You are never alone, there are support groups and people who offer the care and support that we need the most.
Life goes on, we must not dwell long in our past because it would restrain us from reaching our goals in life. It is never too late to achieve those goals and the impossible are still possible if we have trust in ourselves.
Denying or pretending that nothing is wrong would only lead to complications and tragic endings. Treatment is available and it helps prolong your life, along with healthy lifestyle, frequent visit with your doctor and positive outlook, you can live a normal life and would even live with a longer life expectancy.
Disclosure would still depend on the person. We should not rush them; instead we give them time to think. Also we can refer them to a licensed HIV counselor that could help them out in disclosing to their parents and other significant people.
Acceptance starts within you. Learn to accept yourself first before disclosing your HIV status. You should always be strong and full of optimism. 

this is JaKe Positive. BE SAFE +)


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