A Letter Of Positivity From A PLHIV

hiv, positivity, open letter, letter of a plhiv, hiv philippines, hiv davao

Just done watching a series about having a life with HIV. It seems my physical self wants to sleep since I was from my graveyard shift but it seems after watching it, my mind is bursting a lot of thoughts and that’s why I decided to put this into writing.

You may never know what life has to bring forth nor you don’t know when your earthly life takes you and be judged by God on your second life. I’m writing this right now on a not so dirty but messy room, the AC has not turned on even I’m writing this on a kind of hot weather. Little did I know that I’m battling this sickness that seems just normal to me but somehow I don’t want to face the fact that I’m HIV positive because it’s stressing me. I just want to live a normal life just like what others do. I just want to fulfill my dreams just what my peers are striving about. I just want to enjoy the things around me just like a child who does not have a problem in life. For almost three years of bearing this sickness, after I watched the series, questions keep popping in my mind. Have I lived a life that I wanted it to be? Is my life different today should I did not have this illness? Is my life worth living on a purpose and am I helping other people just what I always wanted to do?

In May 2016 I decided to get tested after going to church. It was my special someone who gave this indirect motivation. He said that he was HIV positive and he was depressed back then (but he’s living a
happy life right now, I suppose). It’s just that God has given me the wisdom to know my status at an early stage as possible. I didn’t feel any physical change nor I didn’t get a fever just what others experienced in the onslaught of their HIV infection. But it took me more or less 70 days to know the result since I was assigned by my employer to work overseas.

It was August of 2016 when I went back to the clinic to confirm the results. Actually, even after the test that was around 11AM, some clinic personnel called me in the afternoon and said that my blood is under confirmatory. It means that it needs to undergo another testing at San Lazaro Hospital. When they called me, I knew I need to prepare and accept the results. Those 70 days overseas always made me think about the results. But the process of acceptance was there. I prayed to God to give me the strength to accept whatever the result may be and let me live a longer life.

In August 2016 as well, I got the confirmatory result–a very positive result. The doctor said that I’m HIV positive. They tried to call me for those 70 days that I was abroad. But I explained to them that I was overseas that’s why they can’t reach me through the phone. They asked me if I was okay knowing the result and I said yes I’m okay and that I already accepted it. But when I saw my friend after I knew the result, I just hugged her tightly, really tight. No tears running through my eyes. I just wanted to remind myself that there are a lot of people who love me for what I am and who will accept me even I have this disease.

I went back to Davao to undergo medication and to know how far did the illness affect my body. I did not tell my parents about this even up to this day. I don’t want to be an additional burden to
the family. I’m always reminded that I need to be strong, they should not see me a weakling for they depend on me in the struggles of life. It was a 2-week observation and medication before I came back to Manila for work. I’m truly blessed that my boss and HR Manager have been the instruments of God for they helped me to find a HIV clinic (named HACT office) to somehow treat my illness. And they were the most understanding people to my situation. As I went to the HACT office for the first time, I saw a lot of HIV positive patients. Like when I looked at them they somehow made me feel that I’m sick also (and this is the primary reason why I hate going to HACT office). Men, women, gays, even a child that can’t stand up on her feet. Mostly were people living with HIV (PLHIV). When I saw the child, I got teary-eyed. I thought to myself, she doesn’t have any sin but why does she have to undergo that burden. That’s the time that I decided that I don’t want to have a child of my own. I don’t want to infect my child just like what I saw in the office. It breaks my heart even more. For me, that was a test of character. How can I endure the pain, the psychological aspect of having HIV? For me having HIV is not just the physical illness but an emotional, psychological and spiritual challenge.

One by one, I confessed to my closest friends about my situation and I’m very grateful that they accepted me for being who I am. They did not even show me any disgust towards my HIV status and I feel more love from them.

I did remember the first time I took my meds, I got hallucinations and difficulty in breathing. My mom noticed in the morning while I was eating that my breath is somehow deep but I just said to her that I’m okay, maybe I’m just tired. But when I went to the office, I asked my HR manager to let me sleep for a couple of hours. That was exhausting but, lo and behold, I’m still alive.

The rest was history. After all those struggles, I’m still here writing my thoughts and sharing my happiness with everyone. I decided to go back to Davao and settle for good and for me to have easy access to my meds and monitor my condition. I’m telling you living a life with HIV is difficult. Yes, you have to set limitations on yourself. You can’t work abroad nor settle there for good (this was my plan before having HIV). You can’t force yourself to do much (in which I somehow violated this one working as an accounting associate in a BPO company on a graveyard shift, a part-time faculty, and a financial advisor and soon an HIV advocate).

But you know what’s best for me of having HIV? I have learned to love myself even more. I learned to depend on God’s love, His bountiful blessings. I learned to be more grateful–being grateful for the positive (and sometimes negative) people surrounding me and giving me the love and care to move forward amidst life’s challenges. I care about my physical self even more. Checking my immune system (having CD4 count twice a year) and checking my cholesterol count, going to the gym and a few diets. Knowing my limitations and not so into stress.

And what’s more important is living a happy and healthy in an imperfect life. Well, still my parents and siblings don’t know my situation but seeing them happy makes me happy too. And for you who are reading this, even if you’re HIV positive or not, take life’s perspective of a happy HIV positive person just like me. In life, there’s always a silver lining. You can get through this, we can get through this.

Joemar Belleza
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About Joemar Belleza 358 Articles
Joemar is the Blogger-In-Chief of BaklaPoAko.Com. He is currently a graduate student in University of the Philippines Open University. He also studied at Maquillage Professionnel School of Makeup Artistry and School of Fashion and the Arts (SoFA). He is a bold advocate of education, environment and LGBT issues. An earner, dreamer and a lover. Before he was once a dream-sprouting seed. Now he's a tree in his renaissance and will always be evergreen. Hear him speak with his intelligent guide for gay news of the Philippines and worldwide, Bakla Po Ako. Confirmed!. Follow him on Twitter @belleza_joemar. Gay it forward!