The official site of The Project Red Ribbon Care Management Foundation, Inc. (TRR).

  • TRR LOVE FUND

    TRR Love Fund is the arm of the foundation which provides medical assistance to the financially challenged PLHIV.

  • Care assistance for HIV Test

    The Care Assistant Program involves assistance to HIV testing and HIV and AIDS Treatment hubs in the Philippines. Our volunteers schedule the client to the clinic or hub, assist with the procedure in the clinic or hub and conduct peer counseling

  • HOTLINE ASSISTANCE

    With the TRR Hotline Numbers, our volunteers answer concerns and inquiries about HIV and AIDS, do counselling, refers clients to nearest HIV Testing facility, HIV and AIDS Treatment Hub and government and NGO organizations for support

  • PEER COUNSELING

    The foundation volunteers conduct one-on-one counseling either on the phone or in person. They also conduct group counseling

  • SUPPORT GROUP TALK

    The support group talk (SGT) is a program that involves giving HIV lectures by guest speakers, discuss topics about HIV, care, treatment and support, discussion issues related to HIV

  • OUTREACH PROGRAM

    The foundation's outreach program is geared towards providing support to our fellow PLHIV's in the HIV and AIDS Treatment Hubs. Volunteers hand out of donations of medicines and special gifts to PLHIV, give inspirational talks by invited guests to a group of PLHIV, bonding over snacks or meal, visit the sick who are confined in the hospital

  • Referral System

    As part of treatment, the foundation's referral program involves our volunteers referring clients to specialized doctors who are HIV friendly. The foundation has it's own list of specialty doctors of low cost for the indigent PLHIV.

  • Online Support Group

    The foundation has a private Online Support Group in facebook. This group of advocates, supporters, counselors, health Workers and PLHIV

  • Home Health

    Aside from client counselling, the foundation volunteers also do family counselling and home visitation for awareness and continuance of care.

  • Health Fitness

    The foundation believes in holistic approach to treatment and care, thus inclusion of these programs: yoga, dance, swimming, jogging and running, boot camp workouts

  • EVENTS

    As part of awareness and education program, the foundation organizes its own national events to coincide with the international AIDS events: World AIDS Day and International AIDS Candlelight Memorial

Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Story of Hope

My blog is my notebook. It's just a collection of all the researches I made about HIV/AIDS especially here in the Philippines. Its a collage.. I put bits and pieces of everything about my disease. At first, it was a diary for me to reflect on, a journal for me to spill out all my emotions. Lately it has become a venue for other people to interact with me, a channel where I can assist other people with their struggles.

I met Miguel through my blog last week. He sent a message through my email. He was depressed and scared because he just found out that he was positive that day and was just waiting for the confirmatory from his Western Blot. He said he knew that he will turn positive there too. He was pretty sure. I told him that everything will be alright. He told me that nobody knows, not even his family and he was scared of rejection by them. I listened. 

For the past days, he had been messaging me. He was scared to death. He said he couldn't sleep anymore. In front of the computer he said he forgot everything but as soon as he was in bed, everything rushed back in. All bad thoughts came flooding his mind. He told me he even thought of committing suicide. I listened and I talked to him. I told him that he is an important person and he should be focusing on his health rather than entertaining bad thoughts. I allowed him to talk and talk. Most of the time I just listened. He asked questions about my experiences, about treatment, about hubs. I gave him direct answers. He kept on saying over and over again that he was worried. I calmed him down by telling him that I am there to listen to him.

For five days we had been communicating. I made it a point to answer as fast as I could when he needed me. I wanted him to know that I was there for him. Still, he was scared and couldn't sleep. Still he was confused. I listened. I answered all his questions. I gave him the best advice that I could give. I told him that I asked for prayers for him from some of the pozzies that I know. 

Yesterday morning we communicated again. But this time, I did most of the talking. I told him that we should set a goal. First, he has to accept that the disease exists in him so he can accept it and focus on his health. Second while waiting for his confirmatory he should be busy by preparing himself physically and mentally for the possible scenario, for treatment. I told him that he should start telling one of his siblings about his condition. That is the best way to prove that he has accepted his condition. I told him that right now, he needs a support system coming from any of his family members. He has to face the fact that he needs help from them. We even set a deadline, a specific date when he is going to do it. We also made a contract that he has to make sure that he is in good health before he gets the confirmatory result, meaning if he has a possible OI, he has to treat it fast. He has to be, literally, clear from any infections before the said date. I told him that it was a win-win situation. If he turned out false positive, still he will be in good and healthy condition. He agreed. We made a pact that he will be focusing on his health. I told him to read my previous blog about staying positive (http://pozziepinoy.blogspot.com/2011/11/how-to-stay-positive.html) and start doing them.

Yesterday afternoon, he texted me again. This time he was so happy. He texted me these:

         "Pozzie! Ang saya saya ko! My sisters accepted me. Very supportive sila
         at they'll help me out. I wanna thank you. Sobrang laking tulong ng chat natin e.
         Sana I can meet you one of these days to personally thank you. We can do this,
         we'll survive!"

          "Thank you! I'm done with the first step - acceptance. Next step is to keep
          myself busy and healthy."

I cried.

I was so happy. 

Most of the time when we have problems we sunk in to ourself. We blame ourselves for what ever has happened to us. We entertain a lot of negative thoughts that will drain us. We close our eyes and wait for the inevitable. We start to create our nightmares.

But there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. There is hope. All we have to do is to open our eyes, fight the darkness and climb up towards the light. Most of the time we need somebody to assist us, to assure us that everything will be ok. But the greater force should come from within. We need to be willing to help ourselves. We have to learn how to stand up, brush off the dirt and start acting on all the possible, productive things. We have to assert to ourselves that we are still alive and we are ready to live our lives once again. We have to, not only think, but to start moving, acting on goals and begin moving forward.

To you Miguel, I know life will be good. I know that everything will turn out right for you. Just keep that hope in your heart. Trust me, you'll sleep good at night and you'll wake up and see a great day, everyday!




FOR TOPIC SUGGESTIONS, please email me at pozziepinoy@yahoo.com
DONATE to The Love FundThe Love Fund





          
        




Friday, November 25, 2011

Its OK to Talk

I have HIV. I have AIDS. I had opportunistic infections. I was confined. I am on ARV's. I belong to an HIV hub.

I was confused. I was scared. I felt hopeless. I was at the bottom of the well.

I know what you're going through now. I've been there. I am here.

It's ok to reach out. It's ok to talk. I am here to listen.

email me at pozziepinoy@yahoo.com or send a twit to @pozziepinoy




FOR TOPIC SUGGESTIONS, please email me at pozziepinoy@yahoo.com
DONATE to The Love FundThe Love Fund


Yoga For Life

I am an advocate of fitness and I know healing of the mind and spirit heals the body too. Once the mind is free of stress and negative thoughts, it frees us to eternal positivity. 






FOR TOPIC SUGGESTIONS, please email me at pozziepinoy@yahoo.com
DONATE to The Love FundThe Love Fund

HIV Stops With Me!

Being Positive


I know I will get well soon. That is my attitude. I don't care how fast, but I know I will get there and I will get well. I have a lifetime to wait. But while I am waiting, I need to help myself. I need to strengthen my immune system. I need to do my part in helping to heal myself.

My weight has gone up to 170 pounds. Everybody's noticing it. Everybody's saying I am fat. I don't care. Here in the country if you're fat it is almost equivalent to being healthy. Well, not to me. If only they know why I wanted to gain weight. It's because of the notion that every HIV person will lose weight. I prepared myself for this so I tried fighting it by eating. Now I feel like I am about to explode. This is not healthy anymore.

Yesterday, I started to workout hard again. I am always into fitness so I know what I should do. I started to lift my previous weights in the gym and boy, I never felt that I lost my strength. I still can lift heavy. After leaving the gym, I felt good. Good, in the sense that I feel alive. I am back.

I want to go back to 150 again, go back to my good physique before. Although I like my current weight now. I just wish I am bulky with muscles again. I know that it is possible if I work hard for it. It's just a matter of time. I will just workout hard and do cardio but will try to lessen my carbs one more time.

What I know is that I love myself more now that I got the virus. I know my limitations but I know my great potentials as a person. I know I can help and I know I have an advocacy in life. I know the people who genuinely love me and I am grateful for that. I am also grateful that I am alive and my mission in life is to pay forward.

Being positive has done wonders in me. I know if you just change your attitude, you will feel the same way too.




FOR TOPIC SUGGESTIONS, please email me at pozziepinoy@yahoo.com
DONATE to The Love FundThe Love Fund

PhilHealth Application Form


I copied this from the PhilHealth website (PhilHealth) for all the non member pozzies. The hubs might require you to have one upon enrollment. Also, try to become a member now because by the end of next year, all ARV's and other medicines will be under PhilHealth.

I have heard from some people living with HIV/AIDS that it's harder to be discreet and to ask for their PhilHealth request signed in their company. Usually their HR personnel would pry as to what it is for and most pozzies ran out of excuses. So it is still best to have an individual paying program instead. 

The following may enroll with PhilHealth's Individually Paying Program:

  1. Self-employed Individuals - those who work for him/herself and is therefore both the employer and employee, including but not limited to the following:
    • Self-earning professionals like doctors and lawyers
    • Business partners and single proprietors / proprietresses
    • Actors, actresses, directors, scriptwriters and news reporters who are not under an employer-employee relationship
    • Professional athletes, coaches, trainers and jockeys
    • Farmers and fisherfolks
    • Workers in the informal sector such as ambulant vendors, watch-your-car boys, hospitality girls, tricycle drivers, etc.

  2. Separated from employment - those who were previously formally employed (with employer-employee relationship) and are separated from employment.
  3. Employees of international organizations and foreign governments based in the Philippines without agreement with PhilHealth for the coverage of their Filipino employees in the program.
  4. All other individuals not covered under the previous categories mentioned, including but are not limited to the following:
    • Parents who are not qualified as legal dependents, indigents or retirees/pensioners
    • Retirees who did not meet the minimum of 120 monthly premium contributions to qualify as non-paying members
    • Children who are not qualified as legal dependents
    • Unemployed individuals who are not qualified as indigents

Registration procedures and documentary requirements

  • Fill out PhilHealth Membership Registration form
  • Attach clear copy of supporting documents for qualified dependents to be declared
  • Registrant will be issued his/her PhilHealth Identification Number or PIN and the Member Data Record or MDR and shall be asked to pay the required premiums to the PhilHealth Cashier or at any of PhilHealth's accredited collecting banks

Premium requirements

  • Individually Paying Members (IPMs) earning an average monthly income of P25,000 and below pay P300 quarterly or P1,200 per year, while those earning above P25,000 pay P600 quarterly or P2,400 per year. Premium contributions may be paid quarterly, semi-annually and annually.
  • Schedule of payment:


QuarterlySemi-annualAnnual
Pay until the last working day of the quarter being paid for.

Example:
Period: January to March
Deadline: March 31
Pay until the last working day of the first quarter of the semester being paid for.

Example:
Period: January to June
Deadline: March 31
Pay until the last working day of the first quarter of the year being paid for.

Example:
Period: January to December
Deadline: March 31
















The Form: Download, print and fill this out and proceed to the nearest PhilHealth office. Bring the necessary requirements. You can send somebody to apply for you with proper authorization. You can get your ID, the membership registration and receipts in less than an hour depending on the number of applicants in the office.

http://www.philhealth.gov.ph/forms/membership/pmrf.pdf

Good luck!



FOR TOPIC SUGGESTIONS, please email me at pozziepinoy@yahoo.com
DONATE to The Love FundThe Love Fund








Options


When I was confined in the hospital, almost 3 months ago, Tag and I got my own infectious disease (ID) doctor. She was the one who guided me on what to do, what lab tests to take and which hub to go to. When I was ready for my ARV's, she just gave me a prescription addressed to another ID in a hub to give me the ARV's that I need. Once I was taking my ARV's I still had frequent consultations with my ID doctor.

The question boils down to this. If you can afford to have your own doctors, is it possible to have them? The answer is yes! I have my own pulmo, GI (gastro intestinal), nephrologist and a private ID. They still monitor me. My ID is in charge of my medicines now and monitoring my reaction to them. She just gives me the prescription to get the medicines from the hub. She also tells me which labs tests to take prior to my consultation with her. She is in charge of the whole team. If in case she suspects a possible OI, she will address them by referring me to my doctors who specialize in that specific area. For instance, my ID suspects a liver problem, my GI doctor would come into the picture. My GI would then communicate with my ID for his findings. But it is my option.

In case you decide to be in a hub without having your own personal doctors, they are all fully manned with competent doctors. You will be seen by an ID in the hub and he or she will be the head of the team. If there are possible OI's, he or she can refer you to other doctors in the hub who specialize in that specific field.

Do you have to be confined in your hub if there are problems? No, unless you are in financial distress. The hub hospital usually has free or discounted hospitalization as covered by PhilHealth, but if you opt to be confined in another hospital of your choice, it's still possible. Of course it is easier for a hub doctor to see you regularly because you are in the hub hospital, but in case you are more comfortable in another hospital, it is still your choice. What's important is for your hub doctor to be informed by your attending physician in the hospital you are confined in. Communication is a bit harder but treatment is a partnership among you and your doctors. You still have a choice.

You have lots of options. You have to choose which is the best that will suit you. If you are still scared and confused when you go to a hub, make sure that you have somebody who will accompany you, who will make an educated decision for you. Your doctors are there to direct and guide you, not force you. You choose your best option!




FOR TOPIC SUGGESTIONS, please email me at pozziepinoy@yahoo.com
DONATE to The Love FundThe Love Fund

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Things To Do While Waiting


So ok, you are screened and the doctor said that the result has been sent somewhere for confirmation. What is your next step?

You went to an HIV hub and they said that you need to undergo the required tests. While waiting for the result of these tests, what will you do?

You are still treating an existing OI and still not on ARV's because the doctor said you have to wait for your OI to be resolved. So What will you do?

These waiting periods are mind boggling..  they keep you mind from resting... it keeps your body from healing. So what do you need to do. What can you do to help yourself while waiting?

Here are some things that you can do while waiting:

1. Research on HIV/AIDS
2. Know the classifications of HIV/AIDS
3. Know and understand these terms: ELISA, Western Blot, PCR Viral load, CD4 test
4. Read on the opportunistic infections (OI)
5. Read on the prevention and treatment of OI's
6. Know the treatment HIV hubs in the country. Research then compare and contrast each one. Get directions on how to get there. Know the facilities and the competencies of doctors
7. Know and understand the antiretroviral therapy -- ARV's, ART's or HAART
8. Know the side effects of the ARV's and how to deal with them
9. Read on how to deal with the disease emotionally.
10. Read on the best way to tell your loved ones and friends about the disease
11. Read about the rights of a person with HIV/AIDS in the country
12. Learn about being positive. Read books and articles about it.
13. Know about PhilHealth and its benefits to people with HIV/AIDS. Apply if you don't have any or make sure to update all your payments.
14. Look for counsellors who are knowledgeable about HIV/AIDS.Talk to them if you want
15. Read about the experience of other people living with HIV/AIDS through blogs. Join clubs.
16. Join an anonymous tweeter or facebook group if you want. Learn from other people.
17. Know and study all the initial tests required by each hub. Know the fees for each test.
18. Read on how to strengthen your immune system. Know the proper diet, exercises both mentally and physically.

I can list down a lot more because there are a lot of things to do. Instead of fretting and blaming yourself and thinking of all the negative things that you can think of, why not start being productive. Being informed is the best way to brush away all fears. Start educating yourself. By being so, you help your mind rest and your body to heal fast.



FOR TOPIC SUGGESTIONS, please email me at pozziepinoy@yahoo.com
DONATE to The Love FundThe Love Fund

Health Journal

The best way to track your progress is by writing on a health journal on a daily basis. After I got discharged from the hospital, I made it a point to recall all the things that happened to me and summarized them and wrote down in my journal --- from the meds, the symptoms I felt, the lab tests given and the consultation. It made it easy to recall everything especially during my doctor's appointments.

As soon as I started with my ARV's, I also wrote down the my body weight, my ARV's and the days I've been in it. I put a check if I was able to take my ARV's on time. This will ensure that I won't miss my daily doses. I also put there the symptoms that I felt or seen, even the slightest and minor ones because in doing so, I can monitor if they worsen or not so I can report to my doctor.

If there are problems with consultations or changes in my treatment, I write them down in my journal entries for the day. I also mention if I meet a another doctor during the day. Lately I've been logging my daily workout routine too.

Really it helps to be organized by keeping a health journal. Monitoring of one's health becomes easy. Just be patient and make it a point to do it every day until it becomes a habit. Trust me, you'll reap the benefits of it.




FOR TOPIC SUGGESTIONS, please email me at pozziepinoy@yahoo.com
DONATE to The Love FundThe Love Fund

Not A Death Sentence!

How To Stay Positive!


Two days ago, Miguel (not his real name) who just found out that he is positive messaged me. He told me that he felt hopeless, that he wanted to end it all. He hasn't told anybody yet including his family. He was really down. I started communicating with him through text, giving him positive ideas, giving him hope. He was responsive. I answered all his questions about medicines, about the treatment, about the use of PhilHealth. I gave directions to the hubs. I answered all his queries. I listened to him. I told him that everything will be alright and he needs to focus on his health from now on. I told him that I already asked prayers from all the other pozzies that I know and he was grateful.


Our predicament is so great as soon as we find out that we are positive with the virus. Then what? Things flood our brains, mostly negative things. Will they do us good? Hell no. We first all all eradicate them and start to look ahead. Let's all be realistic. There is hope. There is treatment. Medicines are free. There are people who can help.


I found this article from WikiHow. Miguel, this is for you and for those people who are lost and down because of our disease:


1. Know Yourself. The most common reason why people think their lives suck is that they aren't living their own lives. Look deeply into whether you are acting to please others - to please family, friends and society. Realize that you need to get to know who you are and what your needs are, and make the choices to follow your own path. To know these things, a path of meditation and inner exploration is invaluable. This also comes to aid if you lose interest in things.


When you find out that you have HIV/AIDS, you have to accept it by accepting yourself first and fast. You need to get well and to do that you need to tell your loved ones for support and understanding.


2. Look Within. Ask yourself. What are the qualities you have that you like about yourself? Are you funny? Are you intelligent? Are you sincere? Are you generous? What do you have pride in? Try focusing on the positive things in your life. You maybe having a positive influence on others even when you think you're useless.


Most people living with our disease got depressed the first time they got their result. Some thought that it was the end of their lives, some even though of ending it. Always remember that you are important. All you have to do is to look inside and see your true value.


3. Prove those negative thoughts wrong. When you find yourself in a bad mood, you could think of the negative things such as, "I'm dumb and annoying", "I'm better off dead", "I'm stupid", etc. Even though it's not true. Change your mind. Look for your good features, think about the ones that you know love you, look on your greater side. Realize that nobody's life is easy and that there will always be ups and downs, and moments of low self esteem. Don't automatically assume that nobody cares. Every person matters to someone. You're alive for a reason.


It's easier to think of all the bad things that we have done when we are down. Control your thoughts. Instead of pulling yourself downwards , try to slowly spiral up and think of good things. Your mind can produce all bad things but it is also capable of greater and positive thoughts.


4. Appreciate What You See. Look in the mirror. Find some beautiful things about yourself. Do you have nice features that are adorable? Do you have nice skin? nice nails? beautiful eyes? full lips? Find stuff that appeals to you. When you can't change something, change your attitude towards it!


"You are beautiful, in every single way" as the song goes. You are perfect!


5. It's All How You Look At It. Are you jealous of the people with 'amazing" lives? They chose to be that way! Remember, there are people living in mansions who are miserable and people living on the street who are perfectly happy. It's all on how you look at it.


With our disease, we can still enjoy life. All we have to do is to understand and focus on our great abilities.


6. Determine How Your Life Could Be Better. What can you do to make your life better? What do you desire to do? How do you want to feel? Make a few reachable goals and your own strategies. The first step usually is the hardest - getting help or admitting that you need it.


7. Sometimes It's Just Luck. A lot of things in life are just luck. A lot of things in life are just luck. When you were born, whether you had a kind loving family or an abusive one where your mind or even your life is in danger, whether you belong in your community or were born into an out-group by religion, race, etc., whether your family was rich or poor are all random things. It's what you do with it that matters. Remember that there is something epic and heroic in rising from harsh circumstances to do something well. Just surviving a rough situation and coming out of it with a heart is a triumph, a story that could move people long after you lived. That matters.


8. Get Motivated. What motivates you? What gives you energy to go on everyday? Music? Love? family? a 1k run? God/Allah? Your attitude? Your pet? Friends? School? Give yourself a boost by focusing on what is important to you personally.


9. Remember that Some Things Pass With Time. There will be a tomorrow. There will be a next week. There will be a next month and perhaps by then, things will have changed for the better. If you are underage in a bad situation you have a definite release date after which your life is your own, all the things you could do to better it come into reach even if they're difficult.


10. Reminisce. Whenever you feel like you future is "hopeless", think about happy memories. It will help make you feel better and remind you that in the future, there will be good things too. Think about all the good things you've experienced, felt and achieved , and consider how many more good things could be waiting ahed. There will be many great moments in your life - don't let a few obstacles get in the way. If you don't have any happy memories, this is relative - don't judge them by things other people think as "happy memories". Think of the moments it wasn't as bad, even if those were only in solitude.


11. Don't Stop Yourself From Feeling the Joy. It's ok to step back once in a while and just enjoy the moment. Even in though situations - it's important to smile and laugh here and there. Don't restrict yourself
from doing things you love because they're "not important" or because you think you'll be criticized for doing them. Let yourself enjoy life even if you're not at the best place you could be. You only live once - make the best of it. 


12. Develop a Gratitude Journal. It's pretty simple. At the end of the day, write down five things that have made you happy or appreciate that day -- not necessarily big things, even small ones count. For instance: nice weather, being praised by your boss for getting an urgent errand done, your playful dog, kids and partner hugging you goodbye before they went to school or work, a hilarious joke a partner shared, etc.


13. If you feel persistently sad, unmotivated, anxious, hopeless or fearful, seek professional help. You may be suffering from a mood disorder or nutritional deficit which could be contributing to your situation. Chronic physical pain can cause these symptoms too, if an aspirin lifts your mood then go to a pain clinic. Remember there is always somebody there who wants to help you. You are Valuable!


TIPS:


1. To "go for it" simply get up and do it. There is a small voice inside saying "Get up!", and you need to do what it says; just dive it! Turn off the computer, turn off the TV and get going!


2. When you think positively, your whole views change about the world and you tend to look on the better, clearer side. It may sound stupid but being resentful is what really renders positive thinking useless. When you let down your walls (or hold out until they collapse.. ) really trying to "focus on the positives."


3. Thinking positively means hanging on to hope and looking for new possibilities at the time when life's gotten too hard. It means striving against its challenges, however extreme. It means hanging on to what is good in yourself if everything else gets swept away and valuing your compassion, your warmth, your capacity to find beauty. There is always the sky, there is always a dewdrop on a weed.


4. If the above fails for you, take the Buddhist view: Life is difficult. The fallacious thought is that we can change that. In accepting that life indeed is difficult, we begin to make it less painful .. not less difficult. Accept that life is full of difficulty and choose the religion, belief system, or substance to ingest to decrease the pain; that is after all what the rest of us do. Life CAN suck, deal with it!




FOR TOPIC SUGGESTIONS, please email me at pozziepinoy@yahoo.com
DONATE to The Love FundThe Love Fund






Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Power of Helping Others

Today was a busy day for me. I was assisting a newly diagnosed person to find his hub. Let's call him Jose.  This guy has been battling with his OI's when he first emailed me a week ago. I was already answering all his queries about treatment, hubs and lab exams. I was already assuring him that everything will be alright while he was waiting for his chest x ray result. I told him that he needs to just focus on his health and not worry about anything.

I told Jose 2 days ago to go to RITM in Alabang because I already know people there and I know they will take care of him. Yesterday, his chest x ray was cleared of his OI and was advised by his pulmo doctor to go to San Lazaro Hospital instead. He asked me about it so I asked my fellow pozzies whom I got to meet from tweeter about the requirements there. I don't know them personally and they don't know Jose but they were more than willing to help me out. I relayed everything to Jose that night. So that was it. They chose SLH and planned to get treatment there.

Early morning we were already corresponding. jose and his companion got lost around the area but eventually found the SACCL in SLH. He texted me that they were already waiting on the couch for their turn to be consulted. A minute later, his companion asked me to call him and asked for directions going to RITM. I guess they were not comfortable in SLH so I texted them the directions to RITM thinking that have their own car. Later on I found out that they will be commuting and they just took the bus. Hours later they were already in Alabang and they were asking how to get to RITM, so I instructed them to take an FX  going to festival mall and ask the driver to drop them off at RITM. A few minutes later they were in the ARG clinic waiting for their turn for consultation. I felt good then. Four hours later, Jose texted back thanking me and that they will be coming back for some lab tests. I told them that I asked for prayers in my blog and people have been texting telling me to relay to him that they are indeed wishing him the best.

I am glad to have helped Jose get through this stage. I experienced this struggle too when I was going back and forth to my previous hub. It was exhausting. Tag and I were alone. We did everything on our own. Nobody assisted us.... well we never really looked for anybody to help us for that matter. It was really hard at first, getting all the requirements for you to be enrolled in the hub. It was taxing. It was draining. It was frustrating.

It really feels good to help. It feels great to help carry the burden of other people. I feel fantastic knowing that Jose will soon not worry anymore, that he will get his treatment and will get better.

To you Jose, life will be good again. Don't worry you are in our prayers!




FOR TOPIC SUGGESTIONS, please email me at pozziepinoy@yahoo.com
DONATE to The Love FundThe Love Fund

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Help By Praying

A new poz is struggling today. He is battling with OI's and it's his first time to go to a hub tomorrow. Can I ask for a prayer for him, even just for tonight?? Thank you.

P.S. For the 3 people who I consulted with earlier today, thank you. We surpassed our initial struggle .. in getting to the hub, in getting our medicines. Now it's our turn to help those who are confused and who are right now scared ...



FOR TOPIC SUGGESTIONS, please email me at pozziepinoy@yahoo.com
DONATE to The Love FundThe Love Fund

HIV Stops With Me!

Watch Out: It's the Cold Season Now!

Some of the pozzies that I got to know from this blog and in tweeter, are currently sick. They caught the dreaded cold. Some are down with fever, some with cough. I believe that this is the last colds and flu season of the year. Most say that it is caused by the changing weather... the weather now in the country is getting cold as the wind from the northern hemisphere is blowing down here to the tropics.

Colds and flu are communicable diseases. They are easily transmitted mostly by hand to nose or mouth contact, by air and from contact from person to person. Crowding in public places makes it easy to transfer the diseases. Since Metro Manila is such a small city and most people commute, it is easy to get infected in waiting sheds, buses, jeepneys and in MRT. During rush hour one can find himself lining up in walk bridges, elevators and jeepney or tricycle lines. Our malls and market places are also crowded. Even the fast food restaurants are full of people.

Since we are people living with HIV/AIDS, we should be more protective of ourselves especially this season. Most of us can't avoid the crowding but we still have to think that we can't afford to be sick.

Here are some tips that I can think of to help us avoid crowding during this season:

1. If you are commuting, leave home early and leave the office late to avoid the crowding during rush hour.
2. Avoid crowded big malls during weekends. Come early if possible because usually the malls are empty when they just barely open in the morning.
3. If possible just order for delivery instead of going to a fast food restaurant.
4. Move away from a crowded waiting shed.
5. Avoid premier events like movies or running events. Usually there are lines and the place is crowded
6. If working out in a gym, always spray with alcohol all the equipment and handle bars that you are going to have contact with.

Now are we then safe? Not yet. Always remember that we have to make sure that our body too is clean. Germs are scared of soap and water so make sure that we do frequent washing of hands and face. Take a bath when we enter the house, everyday. Also, we have to tell our housemates to do the same to help you not catch whatever they caught outside your house or office.

In the office or any work place, bring alcogel or any hand sanitizer. If comfortable, wear a mask or just cover your nose and mouth with a handkerchief. Clean your work table. When using office restrooms, wipe with a tissue paper or spray the handle of the room. Use your elbow to flush the toilet handle.

In case you do catch a cold (knock on wood), call your doctor fast. We can't just take any medicine without the order of our doctor especially those who are taking ARV's. Do conservative treatment too ... rest and drink lost of fluids and eat citrus fruits.

During this season of colds and flu we have to do our part. Always remember that our immune system is weak so we have to make sure that we don't get any infection as simple as these communicable diseases.




FOR TOPIC SUGGESTIONS, please email me at pozziepinoy@yahoo.com
DONATE to The Love FundThe Love Fund

The "Magic Pills"

Five of my readers emailed me asking how big the pills are. I told them that the only pill that is big is the efavirenz (colored brown in the picture). Tenofovir is the same as biogesic in size (blue pill) and the lamivudine are the white small pills. I took a picture of the pills in relation to our coins.


I call them my "magic pills". I know they are doing their magic in my body right now. I take them all at the same time, at exactly 10pm.

So for those who are scared about how they look like, here they are. Just treat them as if you're just taking your regular vitamins and you'll be alright!




FOR TOPIC SUGGESTIONS, please email me at pozziepinoy@yahoo.com
DONATE to The Love FundThe Love Fund

History of Side Effects

Today is my 43rd day and almost 6 weeks of taking ARV's. For those who are interested in knowing what the side effects of the ARV's to me, let me share with you what I have experienced taking them. I want to be transparent about this because I want people with HIV/AIDS to get a grip of what most of us are experiencing.

Day 1: Asymptomatic
Day 2: Dizziness upon waking up most probably due to efavirenz.
Day 3: Had a bad dream, woke up at 1am. Woke up dizzy but less than before
Day 4: Asymptomatic
Day 8: Chills
Day 9: Chills, low grade fever, headache
Day 10: Chills, slight chest pain
Day 11: Asymptomatic
Day 12: Skin rash on chest, shoulders, nape
Day 13: Skin rash on back, arms, legs
Day 14: Skin rash, minimal
Day 15: Asymptomatic
Day 35-40: slight itch
Day 41-43: Asymptomatic

The doctors in my previous hub said that sometimes side effects come out months or even years after taking the ARV's. I just wish that my body has adjusted to them now so I won't experience any side effects anymore.




FOR TOPIC SUGGESTIONS, please email me at pozziepinoy@yahoo.com
DONATE to The Love FundThe Love Fund

Got Worried

I felt I was catching a cold yesterday. I was sniffing. I got worried. With my weak immune system, I can't get sick. I really can't. I've been avoiding going out to crowded places. I've been careful with handling raw meat. I've been cleaning our place the whole time. I've been spraying alcohol all over our place. I'm doing my part. So how come I didn't feel good yesterday.

I guess, I didn't get enough sleep from the previous nights. Maybe I was just tired yesterday. I know I took a nap in the afternoon and when I woke up I felt the chill. I was sniffing already. Geez.

So I did what I ought to do. Drink a lot of water. I need to pee out whatever is causing it. Must have drank a gallon or more yesterday. Then I still felt the chill. I felt like I'm getting a fever. Good thing when I checked my temperature it was just 37 degrees. Must have been me getting stressed. I told myself I was well. I conditioned myself that everything will be alright. That night I took a warm shower and went to bed.

This morning I am back to normal. As if nothing happened from the previous day. Yehey! For the past years, catching a cold or a flu didn't worry me. Now, I worry with even a slight chill. This illness really bogs you down to thinking that any infection can hurt you. Any illness can bring you back to the hospital.

I am glad I am ok now. I just have to be vigilant... again!




FOR TOPIC SUGGESTIONS, please email me at pozziepinoy@yahoo.com
DONATE to The Love FundThe Love Fund

Monday, November 21, 2011

Boost Your Immune System

Time To Share Your Story

I find peace and solace in reading stories of pozzies. They give me strength. I feel I am not alone. I feel their pain and struggles as I feel mine. I see them and find happiness in their accomplishments.

You too can help other pozzies to find peace. Start sharing your stories. Let us feel you and in doing so we can feel ourselves. Share you struggles so we can feel that we are not alone with our own struggles.

If you want to share your story, email me at pozziepinoy@yahoo.com . Let's all learn and experience this, together.

Answers To Questions

A newly diagnosed poz asked me what are his next steps. He is from the province, still battling pneumonia and has a low CD4 count. I am no expert but i'm sharing what I know based on my experience.

Which hub to go to?

My first hub was UP PGH-SAGIP but I recommended RITM-ARG in Alabang where I go to now for my medicines. In my opinion, first, it is cleaner, organized and you won’t feel that you’re in a hospital. Second the staff are friendly and accommodating. Third a staff will approach you and talk to you about PhilHealth, it’s benefits and how to lessen the financial burden. Fourth, CD4 and viral load tests are done there. 


The only problem with RITM is the distance from Manila. It is more accessible if you’re coming from the south but coming from the north, it would still be best to either go to San Lazaro or SAGIP. But if you’re taking the skyway, it is just 30-40 minutes away from Manila even on a busy day.

*** RITM-ARG Tel. Nos. 807-2628 loc 801/208

What are the baseline tests required?

Since I have private consultants, I didn’t undergo the procedures in RITM. So instead I asked a poz friend about the requirements. He said that the free tests are: CBC, urinalysis, fecalysis, chest x ray and sputum test (3 consecutive days). The non-free tests required are: hepa test, CD4 test and PPD. 
Tip: Always bring photocopies of all current lab results and pertinent (e.g. HIV Western blot result, PhilHealth MOR and proof of payment)

Worried because they don’t have a place to stay in Manila, he asked how long will the consultation last?

Once all the requirements are complete and for as long as the doctor in the hub doesn’t suspect any illnesses based on the lab results that will be presented, one can go home with the medicines after a few hours after the consultation. If they find out that one has existing infections, the hub doctor will decide if more tests will be done and that of course will prolong their stay.

Is RITM discrete?

I believe that all hubs are discrete. The staff are all trained to be so. In RITM-ARG, you would feel like you are just going to be interviewed for a job. It is located in the OPD building and the ARG clinic is basically an office with a room for consultation. You won’t even feel that you’re in the hospital.



FOR TOPIC SUGGESTIONS, please email me at pozziepinoy@yahoo.com
DONATE to The Love FundThe Love Fund


Thursday, November 17, 2011

You Decide

I bumped into this video. Now, you decide....

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

LAB: The Love Yourself Project

When I got diagnosed, Tag and I became advocates of post care of persons with HIV/AIDS. We believe that there are already organizations focused on prevention so when I read in the website of The Love Yourself Project (TLY) that they have a program wherein they will give financial assistance to newly diagnosed persons with HIV/AIDSI emailed them last November 9:


Greetings!

I'm xxxx and I am an AIDS patient since September of this year. I applaud your cause of helping the newly diagnosed HIV positive patients here in the country. It really is a big burden financially especially taking all the lab tests and blood work for baseline information. I have a blog,pozziepinoy.blogspot.com and most of the pozzies that I met through the blog are really having problems with that. It's really crazy knowing that after they got diagnosed, after a few months, most have already full blown AIDS. 

I, for one want to help for baseline financing. I'm not out of the rut yet because my CD4 is still low, but that is my vision in life.

Once again, Kudos to your group!

xxx

This was their reply:

Hello xxx,

we are formally launching the LAB project this Nov.19 during the Mr Gay world 2012, because they are the sponsor of the seed money that will be used for the project but a soft launch was done during the HIV education class that we had with the organizers and contestants last nov 6,2011. I am happy to hear that we have you as a potential supporter of this project. Below is the description of the program and I attached the project proposal so you can review.

Hoping to hear from you soon.

Thank you for your support.

XXX

I am glad that there are venues for helping other poz financially when it comes to baseline testing. If you want to contribute, coordinate with them through their website.

Once again Kudos to you guys!



FOR TOPIC SUGGESTIONS, please email me at pozziepinoy@yahoo.com
DONATE to The Love FundThe Love Fund

Dry Skin

Two days ago, I started to use a body moisturizing lotion. Like what I said before, my body sometimes itch, with no rash. I read about it and articles said just use a moisturizer. I tried it and it seems like it is working! So I suppose I have dry skin? I guess so. I also itch when I am under the sun or when I am hot, so I'll make sure to reapply the lotion.

Dry skin is one of the minimal side effects of the ARV's. I had chapped lips before and I just used my chapstick for that, and it worked. Now, I guess my skin is drying up even though I've been drinking a lot of water. I just have to be meticulous in taking care of my skin from now on.




FOR TOPIC SUGGESTIONS, please email me at pozziepinoy@yahoo.com
DONATE to The Love FundThe Love Fund


My Doctor Didn't Show Up!


I was in the National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI) in QC at 8am. I called a week ago and the secretary said just come in early so I can be the first to be attended to. The Doctor's Clinics Building was behind the main building and after showing my ID to the guard, I went up. The building was clean though, and hallways were not crowded.

I seated myself by an empty row of chairs while facing all the patients who were waiting. There was a guy wearing a mask with no seat mates. In front of him, the seats were full. Were they scared of him? I wondered if I was treated the same way when I was wearing a mask, a month ago.

The secretary finally came, well, she was 30 minutes late. Unfortunately, she said that my doctor was not coming because there was an emergency. Sigh. After a few minutes I left. I wasn't mad at all. I just wanted to show her my ALT results and tell her that I'm doing great! Aside from that, nothing. I took a cab and went straight home.

Tag was more disappointed. He drove me early morning to the hospital and he got late for his meeting because traffic was so bad on EDSA....  all for nothing. I guess that's the catch for getting a popular and well known doctor.

I'll just come back this December for my monthly checkup. I texted my doctor and just told her about the lab results and how I am doing right now. Anyway, there is nothing really to report for the consultation.

P.S. My doctor just texted: "Hi, gud 2 know u r doing wel, u surely cud c me in dec."



FOR TOPIC SUGGESTIONS, please email me at pozziepinoy@yahoo.com
DONATE to The Love FundThe Love Fund

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Let's Recap

It's my 41st day of taking ARV's. People who are reading my blog are asking how I am and how am I dealing with my medicines. So, for those who are just starting to read my blog, let's recap the events that happened to me. Here is my brief medical history:

Sept 1: Diagnosed with bilateral pneumonia, admitted to the hospital
Sept 3: Diagnosed as HIV positive
Sept 6: CD4 count was 73; positive pneumocistiis pneumonia (PCP); diagnosed to have AIDS
Sept 8: Cleared of pneumonia
Sept 9: Was discharged from hospital
Sept 10-27: On cotrimoxazole, azithromycin and prednisone
Sept 26:
    1. Pneumonia resolved
    2. positive oral thrush
    3. On cotrimoxazole, azithromycin and anti fungal
Oct 6: Start of ARV's together with cotrimoxazole and azithromycin
    1. tenofovir
    2. Lamivudine
    3. Efavirenz
Oct 17-19: Whole body skin rash
Oct 24: SGPT (ALT) shot up to 328; continued the meds
Nov 14: ALT now 110; continued meds

So how am I doing right now? I can say that I feel great! For 2 months and 2 weeks, I am in good health. No more frequent fever and frequent diarrhea like what I experienced from the previous months. No more difficulty in breathing, coughing and chest pain. I watch my health. My appetite is good and I'm physically active.

Emotionally, I'm so positive. Tag and my loved ones surround me. I have confidence in my medicines and my doctor. I trust that the medicines will work so I am following all the orders. I always take my medicines on time. I know that with my medicines, I'll have a long life.



For those who have questions, you can email me at pozziepinoy@yahoo.com or follow me in twitter @pozziepinoy.

HIV Stops With Me!

Questions for my Doctor

Tomorrow I will have a consultation with my doctor, Dr. D. I want to do it on a monthly basis, whether sick or not. Treatment is a partnership and I want to report to her my condition on a regular basis. I already took my ALT test yesterday, but somehow I forgot to get my regular CBC. Anyway, my ALT seemed to be the priority last time I saw her. Good thing, it was great news to tell her.

Whenever we go and seek consult, I always prepare a set of questions for my doctors in my iPad. I want to be informed. I just need to be educated. I feel that I am doing my part. Also I want my doctor to see that I am cooperating and that my health is a big deal for me.

So here's my list of questions for my doctor tomorrow:

1. The cotrimoxazole and azithromycin are for the treatment and prevention of PCP, MAC and toxoplasmosis. Will I stop taking them once my CD4 level goes up? What is the cut off level? I read that if my CD4 level goes up to 250, I can stop them.

2. What OI's or infections can halt or stop my ARV treatment?

3. Will I be needing vaccinations to prevent infection? What CD4 level do I have to be on to get the vaccinations?

4. Are my vitamins ok? I'm taking multivitamins, Vit C and E and fish oil even before I got sick.

5. Who will I call when you go out of town or country?

6. I sometimes have itchiness with no rashes, most often when I am in a hot  environment or under the sun. Will they disappear? Are they from my ARV's or my prophylaxis?

7. I work as a _______. When do you think I can get back to work? Is it safe for me to work there or will I have to wait awhile just to be safe?




FOR TOPIC SUGGESTIONS, please email me at pozziepinoy@yahoo.com
DONATE to The Love FundThe Love Fund

Just Don't Get Sick!!!


I read it somewhere that colds and flu can make your HIV multiply at a faster pace. I researched it again after a friend of mine who is a pozzie too said he has cough. I found this from an article:

Every time your body has to crank up your immune system to fight an infection, the HIV living inside the immune cells gets cranked up, too. “HIV replicates most effectively within immune-competent cells when these cells are activated,” says Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the U.S. National Institutes of Health. “When a person gets another infection, the immune system gets activated, or ‘turned on,’ to fight this infection. This activation puts the immune system in a more vulnerable state for the replication of HIV.” So, although the fever and aches and pains related to an infection may be all you’re feeling, what’s going on beneath the surface may include rapidly growing HIV.

This issue is not just a concern for those not on HAART. Although HIV activation is definitely greater in someone with unsuppressed virus, even people on HIV meds who have undetectable viral loads may have problems. Dr. Fauci says that although HAART generally lessens the increase in HIV activation that another infection can cause, if your immune system has to work overtime to fight other infections that activity can end up making your meds less effective at suppressing HIV. So preventing (where possible) or otherwise quickly treating infections may help preserve HAART’s ability to keep HIV in check.

Which infections are of most concern? In general, the infections most likely to boost HIV replication are those that cause body-wide (systemic) symptoms: fever, muscle aches, fatigue and “malaise” — that all-over yucky feeling. You know how you feel when you get a cold or flu or your sinusitis starts acting up? That’s what we’re talking about. These symptoms are indicators that your immune system has been activated enough to likely increase HIV activity.

Those are some reasons why it’s important to prevent infections — and treat them quickly when they do occur.

Prevention is still the best. Due to congestion in public places in Manila, one has to be careful whether you are on ARV's already or not. Almost every quarter is a flu season here in the country so we have to be watchful. Our immune system is weakened already by the virus and we don't want it to be activated all the time when we get an infection. 

This is what I usually do:

1. Always have an alcohol sprayer in my bag, car or main door. 
2. I have a hand sanitizer in my bag, pocket or inside my drawer.
3. I wash my hands whenever possible.
4. I always bring a handkerchief.
5. I always bring a mask (in case of crowding in a public place).
6. I always put in my mind that other people can make me sick so I have to be vigilant all the time!



FOR TOPIC SUGGESTIONS, please email me at pozziepinoy@yahoo.com

DONATE to The Love FundThe Love Fund

Im Getting Fat.. and Happy!

Stepping on our Detecto weighing scale, I was shocked that I am already 167 pounds. That is 27 pounds two and a half months ago when I got confined in the hospital. Despite of my belly getting big and the fullness of my face, I feel good. At least I look healthy and I don't look thin.

It started when I got scared that the virus will make me thin. It came from my friend whom we revealed my status to when I was in the hospital. When I came out, the first thing that she asked was if I was getting thin. I said, I gained a few pounds more. Then I realized the common image of a person with AIDS. Thin, depressed and weakly. I told myself I can't be like that. I said to myself I must counter the effects of my virus and the meds. From that time on, I prepared myself.

Prior to taking my ARV's while still recuperating from the pneumonia and while on the cotrimoxazole and azithromycin, I started eating more. I ate six to seven meals a day! I became a pig. I even set my phone alarm to time my meal intervals. Tag was happy about it  because my appetite was so good. Even my doctors were happy. Then my face started to swell.. it became fuller. My clothes started to get tighter. I was happy!

Whenever I leave my place, everybody I know would always say, "hey you look fat!". It seems crazy but sometimes I think, why not just say, "hey you look good". Most know that I got sick.. people always saw me with a cotton ball in the front of my elbow from blood extraction, so why not just say, "hey I am glad you're ok now." But that is ok, I guess. At least I am the only sick one who is getting fat! I am happy!

But of course, getting fat is not really good. Being a person who has always been fit, I have to do something about it, sometime, somehow. I just like the feeling that I am still in control of my body even though I am being molested by the virus. What I know is that right now, I look and feel healthy, still. I am happy!




FOR TOPIC SUGGESTIONS, please email me at pozziepinoy@yahoo.com
DONATE to The Love FundThe Love Fund


Monday, November 14, 2011

Latest ALT

We had a candle light dinner tonight. Tag prepared it while I was taking a shower. We ordered CPK for dinner and he surprised me with all the preparations on the table. Sweet!

We just got home from hospital and got my ALT result. I promised Tag I won't read the result and he will be the first one to see it. When I handed it to him, he asked me if I want to know. Of course I wanted to so he said it was 450! I was quiet, then he suddenly smiled and said that it was down to 110! Yey. After 3 weeks of taking my ARV's it went down from 328! It is still high but my GI doctor and friend doctor were relieved. My liver is safe now.



FOR TOPIC SUGGESTIONS, please email me at pozziepinoy@yahoo.com
DONATE to The Love FundThe Love Fund

Friday, November 11, 2011

Need To Talk??

I have AIDS. I am HIV positive. I understand your predicament. I understand your burden. I know you're hurting. I know you're confused. I am here.

If you want to correspond just email me. pozziepinoy@yahoo.com  or follow me at pozziepinoy @tweeter. Everything is confidential. I am here to listen to you...

IT'S OK TO TALK!



FOR TOPIC SUGGESTIONS, please email me at pozziepinoy@yahoo.com
DONATE to The Love FundThe Love Fund


I'm Proud of You!


A fellow pozzie who reads my blog regularly just told his partner about his HIV status. I've been advising him to tell him the truth but weeks ago, he was sacred of rejection. He was scared of the consequences of his revelation of his disease to him. He was basically not ready because he loves the guy so much and he was scared to lose him.


But today, he told him. And I'm proud of him. I'm proud of YOU!


Sometimes it really is hard to disclose something as serious as our disease. But it really helps if we know who and how strong our support system is. It really lessens the burden. It makes us not worry anymore.


It takes a lot of guts to do this when we know that there is a potential for rejection. Still, we have to do it. It is our responsibility. We need to be loved without pretensions. We need to be accepted by who we are and not by what we have.


Disclosing our disease to our partners is our responsibility. It is our obligation to tell the truth. It is relevant, to  establish a line of communication regarding HIV. It is very important to discuss, after educating ourselves, about our options.


I'm proud of YOU! For being brave, for being responsible.




FOR TOPIC SUGGESTIONS, please email me at pozziepinoy@yahoo.com
DONATE to The Love FundThe Love Fund

HIV in the Philippines