Tuesday, May 11, 2010


Okay, I think I'm sick.  Y'all know I'm sick but that's not what I'm talking about.  I'm having a runny, sometimes, clogged nose.  I'm also having phlegmatic coughs every now and then.  It started last night.  My throat suddenly became very itchy and the next thing I know, I could hardly breathe through my nose.  I got really worried so I went to bed right away to get some rest.

I woke up this morning still with an itchy throat.  Every time I cough, it feels like my chest wants to burst open.  For a moment, I panicked -  I thought I'd die any moment soon.  Anxiety attack!  I checked my temperature and felt relieved that I don't have a fever.  

I took a deep breath and pulled myself together.  I went to the toilet to take a shower and 30 minutes later, I was on my way to the office.  I don't feel actually that ill.  I'm just having colds and an itchy throat.  When I got out of the trike, I went to 7-Eleven to buy Strepsils.  Whew, what a relief!  My throat immediately didn't feel that itchy anymore.  That took care of a few of my worries but nonetheless, I was still worried.

At the office, I feigned my-usual-alive-awake-alert-and-enthusiastic-self.  I don't want my officemates to notice I'm sick for the nth time.  But later in the afternoon, I sneaked into the clinic and went to see the doctor.  She examined my throat and she said it's really red.  She also listened to my chest with her stethoscope and I sighed when she said it's clear.  She told me she won't prescribe me with an antibiotic yet since the symptoms only started yesterday.  She prescribed me with anti-symptomatic medicines instead and asked me to come back on Thursday.

On my way home, I stopped by Mercury Drug to buy my medicines.  I also stopped by a carenderia to eat.  I was so hungry I ordered the first thing I saw, fried bangus with black beans.  While I was eating, an old woman sat near me and started chatting.  She said her secret to old age is Malunggay and told everyone there that it's reason she hasn't gone sick ever.  She claimed that Malunggay has like seven times more Vitamin C than a whole Orange.  What made me almost jump off my seat was when she announced loudly that if people with HIV will realize the power of malunggay, they'll significantly improve their "resistensya". WTF, really.  It came out of nowhere.

Look, I don't believe in the supernatural.  This is definitely supernatural.  An old woman, almost gypsy-ish, suddenly talking about the wisdom and power of malunggay and its effect on HIV?  What are the chances of me being there?  I suddenly felt something cold running down my spine and got some goosebumps.  I had the feeling that she was actually talking to me, just me.  I finished eating, paid my bill and got out right away.  I didn't even look back.  It felt so weird.

My mom also loves malunggay.  I remember she would force it down my throat when I was a kid.  I hated the bitter shit and I didn't care about the miraculous things she would tell me about the herb.  But now, when I come to think about it, my mom hasn't gotten sick save for that day she fainted when she found out I smoke.

Is this a sign?  Maybe, I should stop being such a hard-headed kid and should start listening to the elderly.  I am sick and desperate.  If someone would tell me that I should climb Mt. Apo and drink from a magic spring on its peak, I would.  Maybe, as simple as eating malunggay isn't that bad at all.  It's funny when you think about it but what is there to lose?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A New Lesson Learned

It's very long day today but I'm too tired to go through the details anymore. I'm even too tired to write another hundred words. Anyway here's a recap of what happened today.

1.  Went to the Hills for my consultation.  I was informed last week to come a little earlier than lunch time.
2.  Disappointed Ate A was not there.  The OPD was full so I had to tell Kuya R what my agenda were right away.
3.  Was told to wait at the lounge until 2pm for the doctor.
4.  The lounge was packed with people from various provinces.  All were told to wait until 2pm.
5.  Chit chat with everyone while watching Showtime and Wowowee.
6.  Found out that almost everyone is new in various stages of newness.  Wow, so many batchmates.  Some are really cute...too bad the cutest was already taken.
7.  Atty. A (met him last month through a poz friend) arrived at 2pm and brought some luscious moist chocolate cakes.  They were delicious, umandar pagka-PG ko...I had three slices LOL.
8.  We were asked to go to the OPD for our consultation only to find out that Dr. D wasn't around! WTF.
9.  We all went back to the lounge to complain to Ate E who at once went looking for an available doctor.  She did find one but she told me that I had to see Dr. D instead for ARV enrollment.  She asked me if I were ready.  I said yes.  I have to come back some other time...maybe a few weeks from now.
10.  I learned a new lesson today.  I should call the Hills first before going there again or else I would just be wasting my time and effort.  If it weren't for the new friends I met, it would have been a complete waste of time.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

My Lucky Number

I've just came back from a much-needed vacation.  For a few days, I made my life feel like the old days.  I wished I could just stay there in paradise and escape from reality.  But then I reminded myself that I have to face this challenge.  Life is not all about sitting by the sandy beach sipping glasses of banana shakes.  I know it's going to be a bumpy road up ahead but maybe, just maybe, I can still avoid the potholes if I am going to be careful.

Today, I went to the Hills again.  I've only realized now that going there is kind of stressful.  I work during the day, Mondays to Fridays, which means that I have to find another excuse to file another leave of absence every time I go there.  I really hate not going to work but I also hate getting sick often so I have to make a few sacrifices.  Either I don't show up at work sometimes or I don't show up at work often.

I was thankful Ate A was there.  She's one of the friendliest people I know.  It was a busy day at the Hills today.    No less than five pozzies were there and she attended to us all.  Two were there to get their supplies of Darna pills; one was having rashes just like me more than a week ago; one was feverish due to the Darna pills he took; another was a very old lady complaining about her Darna pills getting lost in transit by FedEx; and another one was just there selling some handbags to another lady pozzie.

Almost everyone was accompanied by their real moms while the lola was accompanied by her apo.  I almost cried at the thought that I went there by myself.  But no, I have to stop being such a whiny kid.  The reason my mom was not with me was because of my decision not to disclose it to her.  The rashes-kid's mom looked at me and smiled.  She looked really worried and started talking about how her son ate a can of Spam last night.  I told her that I had the same rashes a week ago and they're all gone now thanks to the anti-histamine the derma prescribed me.  I then assured her not to worry much because the rashes look like they're just allergies and I told her son not to scratch them no matter what.

Meanwhile, the lola was on the phone talking to a FedEx guy.  She was mad because according to her, she hasn't taken her meds for three days because of the delay in delivering them to her place.  She then gave the FedEx guy some directions and put down the phone.  I'm amazed at how healthy looking she was.  Yes, she is really old, probably more than 65 years old and living with HIV!  She has been so for almost two decades now; wow, what an inspiration!

Finally, it was my turn with Ate A and she told me about my results.  My lucky number is 338 (a friend already texted it to me yesterday though so I wasn't surprised anymore).  That's a bit short so that means that I am now a candidate for ARVs.  The X-ray says I've got a normal chest, whew; I've got no syphilis, yey; my overall CBC's looking good, amen; no TB exposure (I already know about that); but then, I knew there was going to be a catch.  I am also positive for another STI, HBV - transmission and the works are all the same as HIV's but it eats my liver instead which means no more alcohol for me from now on.  Ate A sent me to the laboratory right away so I could have my hepa profiling.  It's pretty much the package I've got and I think it's not that bad at all.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Weekend Panic

Last weekend, I went out of town.  I needed to see at least a change of scenery so when a friend from the office invited me and some other officemates to her provincial home, I took that as an invitation for myself to relax and breathe some fresh air.

Yes, the scenery was of course green.  The air was fresh except in the sugar fields where the soil was mixed with cow dung.  The food was unlimited and free.  It was the perfect weekend.  But of course, things don't always go according to plans.

I forgot that the countryside is also full of insects.  Outside my friend's house, insects were all over the place!  I got stung and bitten everywhere.  While were all having fun, I was kinda praying that no mosquito with dengue or malaria would bite me.  The other thing is the knee-high grass.  My God, a few seconds in the field and I felt already itchy everywhere.  I'm not being maarte but I still have to go the beach the next weekend.  Who'd want to wear long-sleeved shirts and jeans on the beach to cover the bite-and-grass-itch-ridden-skin?  So I wasn't really having fun at all.

I asked one of my friends to accompany me back to the house because I badly needed a shower.  I checked myself in the mirror and God, it wasn't looking good.  I hoped that the itch would go away so I wouldn't accidentally scratch the bite marks and do more damage.  The shower helped somehow and I felt relieved.

My friend's mom already served dinner and I ate right away after I showered and changed clothes.  The food was really good especially the Paksiw na Galonggung.  After I finished one fish, I felt itchy again.  But I was enjoying the food so I somehow didn't mind the itch at all.

The next morning, when I checked myself in the mirror, I was already full of rashes and scratch marks. They look really nasty.  My skin are full of tiny red rashes with red scratch marks on top of them.  

I panicked!  I became really worried.  What if these weren't actually bite marks?  What if these are symptoms of another opportunistic disease?  I wanted to go back to Manila right away but of course, I couldn't because we'd only go back later in the afternoon.  The day went by with me pretending I was enjoying everything we were doing but in fact, not.

It was already 7PM when I arrived home.  Too late to go looking for a dermatologist.  I became really paranoid but the trip going home made me very tired that I was able to sleep right away.  I woke up very early the next morning (today), packed a few things and I headed to the Hills.

When I arrived at the Hills, I immediately went looking for Ate A but unfortunately, today's her day-off.  Kuya R was there and he checked my PPD Skin Test and declared it negative.  Indeed, the patch of skin where the PPD skin test was injected has no sign of being positive.  Dr D also checked it and said it was negative.  I am thankful I have no tuberculosis and I am glad.  But I was still worried about my rashes.

Ate E told me that HIV-positive patients have to wait until 2PM for derma.  I texted my office that I couldn't make it to work because I've got some allergies (which they've actually noticed the day before).  So I waited at the lounge.  Two guys who are living with HIV for the past 12 years were there and they interviewed me.  They managed to make me cry when they told me that I should tell my parents.  I really want to tell my parents but I can't (that's another story though). 

At 2PM, Ate R accompanied me to the Dermatology building.  The doctors were having a party so I waited until like 4PM.  The doctor asked me to strip down and she checked on the rashes carefully which became redder with embarrassment.  She interviewed me about what I did, what I ate, what soap I use, etc.  She then told me that the rashes were caused by an allergy.

I am relieved to find out that this is just an allergy and not some contagious disease.  Well, I really hope so.  And I hope that the medicine and the hypo-allergenic lotion she prescribed me are going to be effective.  I really don't care anymore if I won't be showing off some skin on the beach this weekend.  I'm just happy I'm not sick again. 

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Hills

I woke up very early today.  As a pozzie,  I think this is one of my biggest days - go to the Hills.  The Hills is a place where pozzies go to have their vital statistics checked.  I was kinda stressed out thinking about all other illnesses I might have, so a few minutes before meeting my Mother who would accompany me to the Hills, I lit a cig.  Oops.  (Mother isn't really my mom; for pozzies, the one who's gonna bring them to the Hills supposedly becomes their Mother.)

It is a beautiful place, a far cry from the  third-worldly setting of SHC (sorry I can't help comparing the two).  I immediately know why the picky beckies choose to go there.  When we arrived there, the place was buzzing with many people.  It was almost 10am but Ate A accommodated my request to be checked but she said I would have to be the last one for that day and for that, I was very thankful.

More than the beautiful setting, the Hills is beautiful because of the beautiful people who made me feel I'm gonna be okay.  I'm forever grateful for the people who were there - my Mother and G.  I was also happy to meet new fellow pozzies who exude so much positive attitude in life.

I can't wait to go back there, see my results and go on.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Box

For the few weeks that I've been waiting for my confirmatory result, I have been somehow a bit hopeful.  After all, the rapid test is only 95% accurate so for us optimistic mortals, that remaining five percent is enough to push us to dream that once Pandora's Box is opened again, it would somehow say, please God, non-reactive.

But of course, I have also remained positive that the rapid test was correct.  Looking back at my life, especially the sluttier parts of it,  I couldn't blame the damn result for crying it out loud at my face that I am reactive.  To anyone who actually knows me, it would be more surprising if it says otherwise.  When Ricky Martin confessed today that he's a proud homosexual man, did anyone get surprised?

I had slept with countless men since I was a teenager.  I get dizzy just by trying to remember them all.  I had sex everywhere, anywhere and anytime.  To say that I am a whore is an understatement.  I was even proud of it because I didn't care and because I was such a sad, insecure bitch every time a boyfriend leaves me.  I was very aware of the consequences but every time I'm in the arms of a beautiful man, I forget myself.

Today, I went to open Pandora's Box again.  Honestly, even after a few days of already accepting the fact, I still felt fear, albeit tiny.  But I was more peaceful.  I have already faced and forgave myself and promised not to screw it again this time.  No matter what the final results are, there's always hope and it has always been in the box for anyone brave enough to open it.  

So I opened it, laughed and said, "I know, right?"

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Goin' Bananas!

Saw this posted somewhere and this is good news!  A study found out that lectins, naturally-occurring substances found in plants especially in bananas, are just as potent as two current anti-HIV drugs. A friend wittily commented that bananas could indeed prevent HIV even if you don't eat it.  And guess what, I think you can even have unprotected sex with bananas, if you're really into it.  

The next time you go to the supermarket, don't forget to add bananas in your cart.  This is one thing we all have to include in our diet from now on.

Click here for the full article:  Bananas May Prevent HIV

A License to Party Again?

I know it's very early to say this but I think I'm beginning to get the hang of this.  I've always been a happy person; okay, happy-go-lucky as well.  I've never taken life seriously before. I've just taken it for granted like it's my privilege and right not to worry so much about it.

I was also never ambitious.  I was born poor but my Mom has taught me how to be satisfied all the time.   As I was growing up, I realized that if this is all life could only offer me, then I should gladly accept it.  If I couldn't afford the finer things in life, then I should never go crazy over them.

So yeah, being not too ambitious and merry-goes-whatever, I let life take its course.  I was like, whatever.  I partied all the time, drink like tomorrow's the end of the world and sometimes, let myself do mistakes.  The last being irreversible.

Yes, that one irreversible mistake but again, I should gladly accept that.  But it did shake me and did scare me to hell.  I've always thought I would die young but until I got diagnosed with HIV, it never occurred to me that I'd really die this early.  I sort of died the day I knew and lived like a zombie afterwards.  I can't take life un-seriously anymore, I thought to myself.  After the day I found out, every day seems to be a blessing.

I take life seriously now, of course.  After all, it was not kidding when it gave me this virus.  But, I think being serious about it doesn't really mean I should just mope and cry all day, every day, forever and ever or does it? Life goes on - I've read that somewhere.  I'm not truly dead yet and like everyone else, I also don't know when exactly my last breath would be.

The only difference between me and everyone else is that I literally own my life now.  I can do the hell whatever I want with it.  It's up to me if I'd want to prolong this or shorten this.  Everyone else doesn't have that power.

Last night, I went clubbing for the first time this year.  But since I'm already serious with my life now, I made sure I had at least 8 hours of sleep before I made the decision.  I also decided not to drink and I also skipped on smoking.  I danced so I could also work out.

I guess, I can bargain and compromise with the Reaper for a while now.  I think I've been given another license to party.  All I need to do is play by life's rules, not mine this time, and I should be able to do this indefinitely. Yeah, just like everyone else.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Something to Entertain and Educate

It sometimes takes more than just a long lecture to get the message across.  Yes, lectures do get the message across but most humans - hard-headed ones like me - just don't have the attention span to listen especially if the topic does not directly affect them.  Before I got diagnosed with HIV, I wasn't also paying that much attention to people who are living with the virus and to what they've got to say.

What could have also stopped me on my tracks and made me listen though, are movies.  First of all, everyone loves movies.  I love, in particular, serious movies with serious messages.  It's just another misfortune that I haven't gone out and watch a movie about HIV/AIDS.  I think films are a powerful tool to reach out to young people and they can get the message across without killing those with ADHD out of boredom.

I've looked around for good films about HIV/AIDS and here's a short list of what I'm going to watch this weekend:

1.  Philadelphia - I had actually watched this movie when I was like in kindergarten - eons ago. I just didn't remember what it was all about.  What I haven't forgotten is that Tom Hanks is written all over it and I think he even won an Oscar for his role in this film so I guess this is worth watching again.

2.  Rent -  Based on a musical of the same title, I am wondering myself why this hasn't grabbed my attention until now.  I even don't have a clue if this film was shown in theaters here.  This better be good because - except for the drugs - I think I can definitely find some connections between my life and the characters' lives.

3. Angels in America - This is an epic HBO mini-series and I hate that I actually missed to watch this.  How could I?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Night I Got Resurrected

I was having lunch yesterday when I checked my inbox and was glad to have received an email from LT.  That's Lucky Trese for you bitches but if you first thought it's Lorna T., I'm sure he wouldn't mind; he's just as beautiful as I would have found out later that evening.  He gave me his number in the email and told me that if I do need someone to talk to or meet up for coffee perhaps, he's available.  I nearly jumped out of my seat! Of course I want to meet him.  So, I saved his number and planned to text him later in the afternoon to warm things up a little.

Then, the power went out.  I was a bit annoyed because temp was over 31ºC and I couldn't stand the heat and humidity in this third-world country.  I immediately took a shower and off I went to Shangri-la Plaza in 20 minutes.  It's really convenient to be near malls at this time of the year; you need all the A/C in the world just to be relieved from the searing heat of El Niño and malls provide you exactly just that.

At Shang, I bought a cup of frozen yogurt topped with blueberries.  It was my first cup since I decided to house-arrest myself for about half a month.  Little things like this make my sweet-tooth self a bit happy and poor me got deprived for quite some time already.

Then, I went to National Bookstore to read my favorite magazines - Time and Newsweek.  Yeah, yeah, I'm a geek.  The articles were about the usual things.  The world is still crazy with threats of war going on between the Middle East and the US - old news; China's going to beat Japan's economy this year - expected; and Facebook reigning it supreme in the interwebz - we already know that, right?

I texted LT and asked him how he was doing.  After a few exchanges of texts, God, I could instantly tell he's funny!  I love people who have a good sense of humor.  They're the ones I could easily get along with.  Don't get me wrong, I could use all the drama I need given the circumstances but I also badly need a good laugh.  We then later decided to meet up at Greenbelt to have dinner and oh boy, I couldn't wait.

At exactly 7PM, he was already at our meeting place and was dressed precisely as he described it.  We gave very quick introductions and decided to have dinner at Kitchen.  After we sat down and gave our orders, we went down to business.  Nothing really serious.  I wanted to hear his story and I've had a few questions in mind too which were begging for answers.

I was happy to hear he's having a blast.  He still goes out and party.  Why of course, I shouldn't have been surprised at all!  It's just me being swallowed by paranoia.  Life should go on.  We are not disabled.  We just really need to take care of ourselves, that's all.

As we were having dinner, we were joined by two more superheroes - J and M.  They were in the area, it so happened and I was very glad they were.  I've been hoping to meet them and last night was just the perfect night.  Then, another two joined us, V and M2.  Just absolutely perfect.

LT had to leave after dinner but I stayed with the rest of the gang.  I love them right away.  With them, it feels like home - warm.  They made me feel so and I am very thankful.  On my way home, I smiled to myself and said, "Welcome back to Earth, you've been raised from the dead."

Friday, March 12, 2010

Dear Nay and Tay,

How I wish I'm there with you.  I miss home.  I miss the warm Tinola at dinner and how we all used to argue about politics over the table but ended laughing about it.  I miss how we all used to squeeze ourselves together just so we could all sleep in one bed.

You are the greatest parents any child could wish for and I am so proud of you.  I wish I could also be the greatest child you could wish for.  When you asked me to take a nap after lunch, I wish I listened.  When you asked me to wash the dishes,  I wish I did without breaking a saucer or a cup.  When you asked me to attend my classes, I wish I never dropped by a video-game station and played Mario Bros. 3 instead.

And I wish I never left from your side.  My heart has always been at home, longing for your warm embrace.  My desire for independence was only so I could help but I guess I failed.  I am sorry I've disappointed you once more and I hope you can forgive me.

I love you Nay, Tay.  I won't break your hearts this time I promise because I'll just keep this to myself.

Your prodigal son,

How to Stay Alive Plan

As with all situations, there's a need for a good plan.  My goal is to stay healthy and be productive for as long as heaven grants.  I am very poor and my family partially depends on me (my father being diabetic now) so dying early is not an option.  I've just got to live despite the difficult circumstances.

    1.  Talk to someone I trust.

Unfortunately for me, most of my closest friends, old and new, are either offshore or in far-flung  provinces.  They aren't physically here but I'm glad they're all reachable through Facebook, mobile phones, etc.  I am overwhelmed by the acceptance, support and love from the people whom I've already talked to.  I am very thankful they're around to tell me that I've got to hang on because having this virus is not the end of the world.

The list is not very long.  I have yet to talk to others especially to my two childhood bestfriends but I am not ready to give them the news yet so I hope they forgive me for not telling them right away.

    2.  Get back to work.
I've been away from the office for quite some time now.  I am going back by Monday and hoping to become even more productive than ever before.  I will not stress myself out, of course.  Everything has to be balanced.

    3.  Quit smoking.

With all the strength left in me, I will have to do this.  As of this week, I've already cut as much as 75% of the number of sticks I used to smoke.  I also don't inhale as much anymore.  I'll try to completely cut it by the end of this month.  It's really difficult to suddenly just halt having been a smoker since I was 17.  Baby steps but yes, I can do this!

    4.  Stay healthy.

This means eating properly, exercising regularly and getting as much sleep as possible.  Living with HIV is a battle.  A warrior is only as good as his skills and battlegear.  An HIV warrior is only as good as his health.
I still have two weeks before I get my confirmatory results.  After that, I'll have to get CD4+ and Viral Load tests right away.  I also wish to get into the HAART program just as soon as well.

   5.  Save, save, save.

I need to cut my expenses drastically.  I know I'm gonna be needing as much money as possible for future emergencies and expenses.  I'm planning to move out of my apartment soon and get a lesser expensive room.  Or if there's someone out there willing to share my tiny studio, that's also an option!

   6.  Make life meaningful!

I've always wanted to help and reach out but didn't really have the drive until now.  Well, there's no better time than now.  HIV has given me a sense of urgency.  I have to do the things I've long wanted to do - spread awareness being one of them.

That's the short term plan.  God bless me.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Calls swamp HIV hotline

MANILA, Philippines—The HIV hotline of party-list Akma-PTM was swamped with hundreds of calls within 24 hours of its launch last week, indicating a serious “thirst for information” among Filipinos on the dreaded infection.

Kevin Carreon, spokesman for Akma-PTM, said most of the callers were young people employed in industries outside the BPO (business process outsourcing) and call center sector which the party-list group represents.

Since Tuesday last week, calls topped more than 100 a day, Carreon said.  Eighty percent of callers were male, from 15 to 49 years old, and only 10 percent were employed in the BPO and call center companies, where more than half of the country’s recorded HIV infections were reported to have occurred.

More than 500,000 young Filipinos are employed by call centers based in Metro Manila, Baguio, Metro Cebu, Davao, and Iloilo.

Akma-PTM launched the HIV hotline (546-0691) and Facebook account (Akma-PTM party-list) a week ago after a 20-year-old call center agent, speaking in a video-taped statement, disclosed that he was positive for HIV, the virus that attacks and weakens the human immune system.

Carreon said his group also received a number of overseas callers who learned of the hotline through the Akma-PTM Facebook account and website.

It's good that there's a hotline.  I just hope that the agents, who handle the calls, are really knowledgeable about the topic.

This is it, Pansit!

This week is a roller coaster ride. One moment, I see glimmers of hope; another moment, I see blurry visions of death.

Last week, I got really ill. A childhood disease came back to haunt me but it's not suppose to because once you've had it, you're suppose to have a life-long immunity from it. So there I was wondering what's up? I'm not too stressed out at work so it must be something else. I wished it was just stress but a bad feeling was boiling inside me. I knew right away. I just knew it.

For the first time in many years, I walked into a chapel. As I kneeled and closed my eyes, tears flowed incessantly; it was so horrifying. I asked for forgiveness and for another chance. But I knew I already had so many chances before but I just blew them all away.

Sunday. It was almost impossible for me to sleep. I planned to go to San Lazaro to be tested the following day. My guts told me I'm positive. I was already sure about it; I haven't been as saintly as I hoped to be.  Even if I had been practicing safe sex 99 out of 100 but there was still that one stupid mistake.

Monday. I went out of bed very early. I took a long warm shower hoping it would help me a bit. My heart was pounding like crazy. I tried all I could not to be persuaded by fear to just stay. I had to be tested - now or never!

So I dragged myself to the LRT and while in the train, there was only one word in my mind - positive. It was a scary thought but it was all I could think of. I almost smiled thinking that maybe I was just reversed-psyching myself but then another voice said, "Who are you kidding?"

At the clinic, I told the lady at the registry that I wanted to be tested right away. The lady asked if I were ready and I nodded. I went down to the lab and the nurse took a blood sample from my finger. I went back upstairs for my pre-test counselling which I've pretty much researched already the night before. I don't know which was worse, looking at the horrible illustrations or waiting for my result which felt like it was taking forever!

Twenty minutes later, the results came in. I am HIV-1 positive. Yes, another case for the statistics. It didn't feel like news to me anymore when I heard about it - I already knew. My guts knew. My heart knew. Every single cell in my body knew. I could feel it inside me.

Now, where do I go from here?