HIV is a virus that I’ve always been dreading since it’s debut in the local media as big personalities in the US have contracted it. People have been scared shit of the virus that misconceptions started to spread on how you’d get exposed to it.
During College, a friend of mine sent me a text message asking me to meet her friend from UP Manila. I thought she was setting me up in a blind date. I soon found out his true intention. He had written a book called Orosa Nakpil Malate. The book circulates around the story of a boy who knows he’s gay at an early age. Effeminate and cute. Then he discovers the wonderful world of Malate were hip music, the latest fashion, and the hottest crowds used to go. The setting was in Malate during it’s early days when High Street, Metrowalk, and even Eastwood were merely blueprints.. It was during the time that Padi’s Point still resembles an old house, refurbished to become a bistro, when Bedrock was still jampacked and only a handful go to Starbucks.. The lead character became discreet as discreet gays discriminate effeminate ones. Funny how homosexuals ask for gender equality when they themselves discriminate each other in their own circle.. He them meets assholes and then this guy shows up and changed everything.. Made his world colorful again, like it’s Christmas eve.. Ok, I’ll stop here cause you better just get a copy of the book and discover the wonders it holds..
This new friend of mine, who wrote such graphic and controversial novel, which is also recognized by the Department of Health, provides information about the virus. It’s generally a manual on how to prevent HIV, how to detect it, and what researches have produced at that time. Plus the story itself is quite intriguing.. (specially the rape scene in FEU lol) Other than that, the author who soon became my friend, Louie Mar Gangcuangco, inspired me to not only help him sell the book, but also help him promote awareness of the virus.
After that, I always tell my friends to “Use rubber or go away fucker”.. I know, it’s lame.. but it did work.. My friends have been responsible not just for themselves, but also for their partners..
When I decided to go to Singapore way back in 2010, part of the medical check up was HIV testing. I was confident as I’ve been responsible, well, most of the time. My friend/son @Bhenoisky was with me and he also took the test. After blood was drawn from our veins, we decided to go out of the hospital and get some food. We chatted a little but it was evident in the tremor of our voices that we were nervous. Then the confessions came out how we both weren’t always responsible.. We went outside and lit up cigs to pacify our beating hearts.. The time for the release of the results is drawing near so we headed back up. Soon, his name was called. He wasn’t briefed or anything so I know he’s negative.. He checked it and it said Non-Reactive.. You could see the gleam in his eyes and how he was overjoyed of the result. To say he was able to breathe again is an understatement.. I waited for the nurse to call my name.. But a minute, 3 minutes, ten minutes, nearly 20 minutes passed and my name wasn’t called. I started to fidget, to pace back and forth as Geno was torn between teasing me and consoling me. I went to the nurse’s station to ask for my result. The nurse simply said, they were verifying something.
My face was drained of blood. All the possibilities of being positive came through me.. I started counting how many years would I still last.. Maybe 10? 20? IDK.. Geno was now trying to cheer me up with halfhearted jokes of my test result being positive.. I was paranoid.. I need a Valium.. Suddenly, I heard my name.
I approached the nurse’s station cautiously as if every step I take might shatter the tiles on the floor. I reached my hand toward the folded paper and looked at the nurse at the same time if he would say something to me before giving me the paper, waiting for a briefing with their resident psychologists.. Everything was on slow motion.. Like the scene in the movie ‘Wanted’ where the lead was about to shoot the wings of the back of a fly. God, where is my shrink when I need her.. But the nurse looked away as my shaking hands finally got hold of the paper that is nearly as white as my face at the time. I slowly opened it, half expecting a reactive result while also half expecting non-reactive printed on the paper.
My life flashed through me in mere seconds. Was this how a dying man would see the world? All the memories came flooding to me.. All my sexual liaisons came back like I was looking at an accounting ledger of debit and credit.. Then I just uttered, “it was just one time..” That one time that I let my judgement slipped.. Could it be the reason that I am this nervous? That a small percentage error might dictate the next few years of my life? Yes.
I decided to unfold the result and just get it over and done with. God I’m such a drama queen. It said Non-Reactive.. I slumped into the seats while Geno was laughing at me.. I was lucky..
But not everyone is as lucky as Geno or I.. A lot of our fellow Filipinos are living their lives being positive. Let us help spread the word about HIV and how to prevent it. I wish more books like Orosa- Nakpil Malate will be published not only educating the world of Gay rights but most especially of HIV awareness..
Spread the word, not the virus..