I have been debating whether I should share this to all of you.
A few weeks ago, my OB asked me to take a few prenatal tests to determine the baby’s general health. Part of it was the usual blood sugar, urinary tests and blood tests.
I requested for home service via a medical testing clinic in Quezon City to come in early August. The guy took my urine sample and drew my blood, and told me to pick up the results 2-3 days later at the clinic.
When I went to the clinic to pick it up, the clinic told me that they have to hold onto my HIV test for re-checking with the Department of Health.
My blood ran cold.
“Why do you have to re-check my blood for HIV?” I asked.
“The tests turned out to be HIV-Reactive,” the woman explained.
“What the fuck is HIV reactive?” I asked as I googled it on my phone. This is what came out:
Omigod. As in, OMIGOSH.
An HIV reactive result is a preliminary confirmation for the presence of HIV antibodies. Hence, there is actually a chance I am HIV positive.
“Does this mean I am HIV positive?” I asked her.
“It doesn’t mean that you are HIV positive,” the woman explained. “You are reactive, so it means that you MIGHT be HIV positive.”
Uhhhh… doesn’t that mean the same thing?
A gazillion thoughts went into my head at once. What does it mean? Where did I get HIV? How did I get HIV? What about my freaking baby?!
I gave husband a call.
“Guess what?” I said. “I might be HIV-positive. But they need further tests to reconfirm it.”
For once, my husband was silent on the phone.
“How the hell did that happen?” he finally answered. “Usually, when you are HIV positive, you are infected either by STD or blood transfusion?”
“I don’t know,” I replied. “All I know is that I am supposed to be HIV reactive. Meaning, they found HIV antibodies on my blood. There is a big chance I am HIV positive, and if that’s the case, so are you since you’re the only guy I’ve been sleeping with.”
I agreed to take a second round of blood tests to determine whether the prognosis is real or not. The nurse was not very optimistic. I think she double gloved herself in fear of being infected.
HIV in the Philippines
The official number of HIV positive cases reported to the Philippines’ Department of Health only numbered 23,709 as of 2015. There have been 1,149 deaths reported. Out of the 17 deaths among people with HIV in February 2015, about 15 are men, citing the prevalence of gay men encounters.
My husband and I believe this number is greater. According to new research, there are 21 new HIV cases in the Philippines every day.
For one, not all HIV cases are reported to the DOH. Given the stigma attached to HIV, IF you do find out you have HIV, you keep it quiet. You don’t tell anyone, and you want to operate in anonymity.
People still see patients with HIV as those with death sentences — for them, HIV which later turns to AIDs is highly lethal and highly infectious. My husband and I for example do not know anyone living here in Manila personally who have HIV. However, it doesn’t mean that HIV is not endemic. It just means people like to keep quiet about their HIV status.
Another reason for the lower reported statistic is because most people are completely unaware that they have HIV. An HIV test still has to be specifically requested and must be done with the patient’s consent. An HIV test is generally not covered in general blood exams. Hence, you can have HIV and not know you have HIV.
Nonetheless, it doesn’t mean that HIV is not infectious. In fact, it is more dangerous given that most people don’t know they have it. Consequently, they continue to live promiscuous or sexually dangerous lives, having sex with multiple partners without the use of condoms.
The First Day
I found my husband at home, lying in bed, with the lights closed. It was 6pm, and there is still light coming from between the curtains.
He had been researching about HIV and AID like crazy for the last hour, and for once, we didn’t do anything but wrap our arms around each other in the dry hopes of comfort.
There is no comfort to be had.
What comfort is there when someone tells you — even preliminarily, that you have HIV antibodies in your body? Put it this way, if you don’t have HIV, there is ZERO chance you will have HIV antibodies. If you have HIV antibodies, there is a high likelihood, you have HIV.
So what about him? What about me? And worse of all, what about Baby Pea?
To be Continued…