Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Aftermath

October 27, 2011

I thought I was already okay 2 months after the break-up. In fact, I got back with Mark and we were on holiday in London, eating lunch at Wagamama when I received a text message from Paul.

“Alex, I need to talk to you asap”

Thinking Paul had a problem I gave him a ring then and then. I found out he didn't have anything urgent on his side, he just wanted to speak with me. However, when he learned that I was on vacation during that time, he changed his tone and told me not to worry. I told him to just leave a message on Facebook.
I went home the day after. I have this weird habit of checking my phone, my email and my Facebook account in the wee hours of the morning. Paul actually left me a message and what I've found out is so shocking that I wasn't able to sleep again. Paul’s message occupied the whole screen of my phone but these are the words that popped out:
Jordan tested positive for HIV.
Jordan had a business trip in US and visited Trevor’s bf who is working in New York. Apparently, the free HIV testing centers are everywhere in New York and it wasn’t hard for Trevor’s bf to convince Jordan to take the test when they ran out of things to do. Jordan was so devastated with the result and he sought comfort by telling it to Trevor’s bf. Of course, Trevor's bf broke the news to Trevor.  Being Jordan’s most recent ex, I was the first person in Trevor's thoughts that’s why he had to tell Paul. That’s how Paul gathered the unfortunate story.
I called Paul and he made me talk to his bf who happens to be a doctor who quickly assured me that there is little risk for me being the "top". However, that didn't stop me from doing my own research using the internet. I've realized how naive I was to believe that a "top" wouldn't get the virus. I had some unprotected encounters with Jordan despite Paul's advice to me to always use rubber. 
I had to wait for 3 long months before I can get the test for a more accurate result. I decided to have myself tested when I'm back in the Philippines in December for my Christmas holidays. 
I had so many questions in my head. What if I have the virus? How will I tell Mark? When will I die? Before, HIV for me is something that I watch on television or read in Manila Gay Guy's blog. I never thought that I would come face to face with the virus. I also hated Jordan for putting me in this situation. 
I prayed that night to God and somehow found comfort and relief. I asked Him to save both me and Jordan. 
December 27, 2011
Paul decided to take the test with me on this day. We thought of doing it after Christmas to give ourselves time to enjoy the season. Of course, there were moments when we hesitated to push through the test but we convinced ourselves that "knowledge is power". There was nothing to lose as the virus could already be in our blood streams due to our past lapses in judgment but knowing whether we actually have it or not would help us re-assess our plans for the future. 
With the help of the internet, I found Manila Social Hygiene Clinic which offers free HIV test with rapid results. Myself and Paul met at the Tayuman station of LRT and walked to Quiricada street where the clinic is situated just right in front of San Lazaro Hospital. 
The clinic looks like a public elementary school inside. The signs brought me and Paul to the HIV testing site where we were asked to register first. The registration site is the same site where the results are released and there was actually only one other guy in the area waiting for his results. We noticed that he was called in to the health worker's room to receive the good or bad news. We saw him crumpled the paper containing his results when he came out of the room. Myself and Paul pretended that we didn't see anything and avoided to show any reactions. 
We filled up a one-page form which asks about personal information and sexual activities. 
"What is MSM?" Paul asked.
"Men who have sex with men! I thought expert ka na dyan!" I even joked to Paul. 
Myself and Paul decided not put our real name in the form. We tried to make the situation lighter by joking about the code names that we will use. 
Paul was called to the health worker's room first when he was done with his form. I went in after Paul's turn. It was a sort of a counselling session where the senior health worker will ask you about your sexual activities again just like in the form and the reason why you want to have the test. She freaked out when I honestly responded to her that my reason was because I had sex with a person confirmed to be carrying HIV. She told me that I need to come back after three months if ever I tested positive for the virus for a confirmatory test. I felt scared because of her reaction. 
We were then assisted to the laboratory for the actual test where two nurses waiting for me and Paul. I thought they will just prick our thumbs but it turned out they needed syringe to obtain our blood samples. We were then asked to go back to the registration site where the results will be released. 
Myself and Paul attempted to draw our mind away from the result by chatting about different things. After 10 minutes, we then saw an old man who signaled us that he already had our results from the laboratory. Paul was called in again to the health worker's room. While waiting for my turn, the old man already revealed to me our results. 
"Matutuwa kayo pareho! Pareho kayo negative!" he exclaimed. 
"Seryoso po kayo?" I asked with an excited tone.
"Oo naman. Sasabihin din sayo ni doktora. " the old man replied.
As expected, Paul came out of the room smiling and I was immediately called to go in. I was already smiling when the health worker handed me the piece of paper.
"Thank you po doktora!" I said with a big smile on my face.
"Iho next time gagamit ka ng condom ah" the health worker reminded me.
"Opo. Actually ayoko na po!" I replied to her.
"Ano ka ba? Di mo naman maiiwasan yan. Basta gumamit ka lang ng condom!" she reminded me again.
The whole process took only half an hour. Myself and Paul were so happy and thankful and we headed out to Trinoma to celebrate. We invited some our PLU friends to share with them the good news.
The result. I decided to use my bitch name "Vince Reyes". hehehe
This is me in a coffee shop in Trinoma. Di muna namin tinanggal ni  Paul ung bulak natatakot kasi kami  baka dumugo. 
I realized that indeed things happen for a reason. In my case, that God didn't really plan for my relationship with Jordan to work out as He didn't want me to get the virus. Who knows what could have happened if I stayed longer with Jordan. I have also learned to forgive him. I asked Paul and our other PLU friends to support Jordan as what he is going through is not easy and also to encourage him to start the treatment. I've began to reach out to Jordan as well and we are in the first steps of developing a friendship.  
I consider this as my second chance and I promised to myself that I wouldn't compromise my safety again. This is a closed chapter of my life. The nightmare is over and I can honestly tell that I have finally moved on completely.