Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Destiny

DESTINY - noun (plural destinies). 
The events that will necessarily happen to a particular person or thing in the future: she was unable to control her own destiny.
---------------------------------------------

Year 2013, I found out I'm positive. Was it my destiny?

Fast rewind, >10 yrs ago. I was in college. Technically a virgin. No-gimmick, nerdy boy in school. I remember clearly my Filipino professor back then asked us to write a short story. Can't decide on a topic for days. Till one brilliant idea came!

Two days after our short story submission, my professor announced to the entire class of College of Science & Engineering students mostly dominated by their brains' left hemisphere, that she photocopied a short story that she likes and is distributing it for the class to read. She erased the name of the writer. My seatmate gave me my copy. So surprised, I almost shouted... are you serious, this is my story?!?! 


And guess what my story was about? It's about... well. In summary, it goes like this:

Bryan and Paul were driving along Taft ave on a hot and humid weekend afternoon. They were sweaty, anxious, tensed and worried while watching jeepneys overtake their air-conditioned Civic. Until they reached their destination. Room 704 on Ayala. They waited for their turn, until the doctor called them out, and said: "Good News! Negative and HIV test no!" They were so ectatic, as they left the hospital! Then Bryan said, "Ano, tara, mamik up uli tayo sa Quezon Ave!"

That's right... my story was about HIV, AIDS! I wrote it when internet was still a rare commodity. When Grindr, PR and Jack'd were not yet invented. When there were more pagers than smart phones in universities. When finding other discreet and straight acting friends were just a dream, at least mine. When I was still sexually inactive. And when I didn't know a lot about HIV, and the stigma attached to it was much much greater! Imagine Sarah Jane Salazar on TV Patrol. 

Fast forward. 7 years later, I found myself in the shoes of Bryan. Sweaty, anxious, fearful of getting my result after I decided to have my first ever HIV test. I opened the envelope in Remedios AIDS Foundation. One, two, kabooom! Like Bryan, I felt like a lotto winner when it turned out negative. Unfortunately, my short story was open ended... an indication of a part 2. 

True enough, my real story turned out similarly. After my first HIV test result, I went back to my "exciting adventures." Then, came my 2nd test, after one year. Still Lucky... non-reactive! Then I stopped taking tests after that due to fear. And I went on with my "relatively safer adventures" in ones, ones became tens, tens became twenties, then probably hundreds (embarrassing), in different provinces, in different countries, continents, and with different races. Pinoy, Taiwanese, Singaporean, Thai, Indonesian, Vietnamese, Malaysian, Iranian, Greek, Turkish, Lebanese, Saudi, Bahraini, American, Australian, Spanish, German, Romanian, Portuguese, Italian, French,  Dutch, Jamaican, Panamanian, Colombian, Mexican, Venezuelan. Omg... shamefully too many!  

Fast forward. 5 years after my second test, I was hoping for another luck. Unfortunately, my blood said "enough!" Not this time! Result... I'm HIV positive. Stage 4. Full-blown AIDS. Very low CD4, with multiple AIDS-related infections! 

HIV, am I destined to you? Blame it on that college paper... that short story was cursed! Or is it? Nah! Of course not! HIV is not destiny, but a result... of my lifestyle choice.

And progression to AIDS is not destiny either. It's a result of my fear of the test for the past 5 years, due to my ignorance on HIV treatment. 

I have AIDS now, but I decided to beat it!  
Typhoon Glenda is destiny, unavoidable. AIDS is not. So, Get tested!
Stay happy!