Tuesday, July 05, 2011

The Test (Part 2)

It's bad enough to be gay and not 100% out. Imagine how it is to be that and HIV/AIDS positive. It's like having to fight two battles on your own at the same time.

My bruised arm days after the test.

After my first test in 2009, I vowed to do it safer and wiser. I believe I did but I realized I was still exposed to risks. See, it's not about the frequency. It's about the manner of how you do it which means you can get it on your first time or that only time you did it in a year.

I was in the office bored and quite bothered when I suddenly thought to myself, "Fuck it." I wanted to do it right there and then. I went home, had lunch and on my way back to the office, I dropped by a clinic and inquired. I wanted to do it immediately but they told me the results wouldn't be out until Monday which means 4 days of waiting in paranoia. But I knew if I didn't do it then, my mind would change later or the following day so after a trip to the ATM, I went for it.

It was good that I already knew what to expect. I had the impression I knew more than the male nurse about the procedures of an HIV screening. Before the actual test, they let me talk to a doctor about it. She asked me several questions and I shamelessly asked her about my queries regarding oral sex and possible government support in case of an undesirable result among other topics. Her answers were not uplifting but helpful nonetheless.

Naturally, I was tensed the entire time. During the actual blood test, I chatted up the nurse to relieve myself. She was very nice. I told her how I used to faint during blood tests. It's true. When I was younger, my mom always had to buy White Flower because I would always get nauseated and drift to unconsciousness. I do not like blood at all. I still don't but I no longer faint thank goodness. This means I no longer need nor want my mom to hold my hand during such procedure--especially not this one. She doesn't deserve it (emotional stress).

After the test, there came the longest days of all. Grueling would be an understatement. It's so heavy and stressful it changes your perspective. I sent a few messages to about four good friends and started a prayer brigade. I didn't want to tell a lot of people because I didn't want to subject them to such worries. I didn't want them to treat me differently if I turn out to be positive. I was even considering lying just so nothing would change.

During the weekend, I tried to go on with my days as normally as I could but it was impossible. I went to school, hung out with my friends, laughed with them over drinks and had a generally good time but my mind was occasionally adrift with very emotional thoughts that came with a stab to the consciousness. It's like when you're in the middle of a good laugh, then it hits you--hard. Being a perennial worrywart didn't make it any easier at all.

Monday came and my mind was a total mess by then. I held it together pretty well though. I went to the office like I would everyday. Then at 9:30 am, I stepped out and called the clinic as instructed. The result was ready for pick-up. Cold and shaking, I walked to the clinic and contemplated if I should have worn my sunglasses. I specifically chose this clinic because it's very near the office and close enough to my place so in case I break down, it's easier to go home and sulk. As for the glasses, well, heading home with teary eyes out in the open is not my cup of tea. But I decided to forego the damn glasses and continued walking just to get this ordeal over with as quickly as possible.

When I went to the counter, the same male nurse assisted me. I was surprised to see when he picked up the result from a shelf a few feet behind the counter. It was not in an envelope and neither was it folded. My fate was right there, exposed to the clinic personnel. Within the few seconds that I stood there as he picked up the legal-sized bond paper that bore the test results, I managed to be optimistic based on his nonchalance and the pleasant expression on his face. Then I saw it. 'NONREACTIVE' in striking capital letters. I was naturally elated but being the paranoid worrier that I am, I asked the nurse what I already knew the answer to.

"Nonreactive means negative right? That means I don't have HIV?"

"Yes," he said.

I had the urge to get down on my knees and thank the heavens for the good news but my moment was ruined by a phone call. Even so, I couldn't afford to be snide in that state of relief and happiness. I was too grateful. I told friends about the great news and thanked them for the prayers. I felt lucky.

The truth is I'm still worried. I may be spared now but who can say I won't go through this all over again? I certainly don't want to but I'm not one to make any promises. It takes a great deal of restraint and commitment to reach a point where you're absolutely sure about your decisions with your judgement not being clouded by any foolishness. It's not easy but neither is being subjected to this kind of experience. It's a matter of choice and it takes only one to change the course of a life, or several.



  1. By the way things are going, parang tests like this will soon become a part of our reality. Sad but not hopeless. Awareness and all that shiyet.

    But wait, you had to pay for it? There are lots of free places. I had mine at San Lazaro and I found out within minutes. Rapid testing ata tawag.

    Anyway, let's celebrate your status. I bought a round for my friends when mine came out. lol

  2. Really?! Minutes? Jeez. Yeah, I paid. I didn't know you can get tested for free. But it's ok. The clinic needs to be strategically located. ;)

    You know that's true. Sooner or later they're going to have to start issuing these cards which you show first even before you give your name when meeting guys.

    Thank you. I'll celebrate soon. :)