My PLHIV Story: There is Life After AIDS!

Posted by Pozziepinoy on 6:33 PM

Hi Pozzie Pinoy,

This e-mail is an account of my three months of experience being a person living with HIV.


I went through the signs of having HIV without me having an idea that I already had the disease.  In 2012, I had mouth sores that were bigger, more painful and taking a lot more time to heal than the usual, about a week.  In summer a year ago, I had episodes of having boils at both armpits.  They were huge and painful, about the size of a big marble and each lasted more than a week (I counted them seven in succession!).  I didn't feel any swollen lymph nodes though so I still didn't have any idea that I have an immunocompromised system.

 I became 'well' again until I had this battle with shingles this time and that was in July last year.  I was stuck inside my room because shingles hit my face so I looked like I had a severe acne problem at my left cheek.  During my vacation, I caught up with all episodes of the 'My Husband's Lover' series back then, after telling my friends that I'm not watching that teleserye.  Boredom kills.  I read about shingles on the internet, saw that a failed immune system is one of its main causes but it still didn't catch my attention because I was confident that I will feel healthy again after the bout with shingles.  So then, in August's end, I was able to get back to work after concluding that I'm 'healthy' again.

A few weeks passed when I noticed that crossing EDSA via pedestrian overpasses was slowly becoming exhausting until the point when I would stop after a few flight of stairs to catch my breath.  I finally decided to consult a physician in the second week of October 2013 because of worsening shortness of breath.

I was diagnosed with pneumonia.  Not a big deal to me at that time because I knew that my mom had it during her last pregnancy.  So the doctor prescribed Azithromycin, one tablet daily for five days.  I noticed that I haven't improved and the x-rays showed a progression of lung haziness despite having consumed all five tabs and that's when I suspected something was wrong with me.  I read online that there's this type of pneumonia that doesn't have chest pain and is a type of an opportunistic infection.  The cliche is when I read about the white layers in my tongue: it was most likely Oral Hairy Leukoplakia (OHL) and it is a strong indication of AIDS.

I got scared so I read and read - that's when I came across your blog.  I read everyting: about getting tested, treatments and personal outlook of the persons with HIV that have been sending you contless e-mails.  I read and read before conditioning my mind to get tested until I finally decided to do so - without the knowledge of my parents but with the knowledge of my partner.  Yes, I have been sharing my health suspicions with my partner.


I went to the RITM Satellite Clinic in Malate in that afternoon.  I was Patient No. 40 and in the last batch of three guys who got tested.  After the usual process, my results still weren't out while the two other guys in my batch had already left.  My heart started pumping fast.  I was bracing myself for the worst and thought as if I already knew the result.  Then came the call to go inside the room to have a confidential one-on-one conversation with the counselor.  I chose to be the one to open the results envelope because I thought that it wouldn't make any difference whoever opens it.  Slowly.. slowly.. I unsealed the envelope and then the plus (+) sign, though small, was the first thing to catch my attention.  That was it - I was HIV positive.

I did not cry - maybe because of reading some good stuff in your blog.  I said to myself that being HIV-positive could be not-so-bad-at-all so I left the clinic and the first thing that I did was call my partner.


After telling my partner the whole story, I felt that he was holding back his emotion until he finally told me that he will accompany me in my new journey.  I felt that moment that it was the first major step in my new path in life.  I will not be facing this alone.  I wasn't mistaken in choosing him as my life partner.

Two days later, I confessed to my family after battling with my thoughts whether to tell them or not.  There was crying, especially my mom and dad.  I felt that their world fell apart during that moment but they were able to pick themselves up, I think after realizing that they can't afford to be negative so that they can provide me with all the encouragement that they can.  I wasn't expecting that kind of reaction from them because they are so conservative and fault-finding.  I was expecting them to be saying those 'I told you so' things that time.


It didn't take long when I got confined in the hub that I chose - RITM Alabang.  It was a no-brainer decision because I badly wanted to get over the hump.  I had a CD4 count of 40!  Good Lord, I don't just have HIV - I have AIDS!.  I already have a lengthy e-mail so here's a summary of the treatment experience:
October 22: Had IV with shots of Sodium Bicarbonate because my oxygen and sodium levels in the blood were just half the normal!
October 25: I was given my first ARV cocktail: Tenofovir, Lamivudine and Efavirenz.  The first morning after taking ARVs was probaly one of the worst feelings.  I felt that I want to throw up all my guts!  It also felt like I was drunk and maybe high at the same time.
October 26: I had super appetite!  I felt that I wanted to eat everything edible in sight.  I was literally salivating for food and I thought that it only happens in cartoons.
October 27: Discharged from RITM and sent home.
October 31: I had a miracle nap in the morning.  After waking up at 1230pm, I felt my world turn around.  There was an urge to drive out of town, eat pizza, listen to loud music and play video games.
November 2: Best wake-up experience so far!  No uninterrupted sleep due to the need to spit out saliva - yes, I was salivating all day for several days!
November 14: I was back to working after getting clearance from Dr. Ditangco at NKTI!  I didn't resign from my company and even file an LOA.  I just consumed my sick leaves for the year.


I have already gained twenty pounds since my hospitalization.  My tonge is fully pink again - good bye, OHL!  It's been five months of being together lol.  There's no more salivation but the appetite did not disappear, it just decreased a bit.  All thanks to not missing a dose of ARVs.  I was late in some dosages (inevitable!) but I made sure I took my meds.  I don't know what effect it will have in the future, I just promised myself that I will be taking my cocktails on the dot.  Cellphone alarms are definitely a big help in adhering to the treatment.

Honestly, this condition is one of the best things that happened to me as an adult.  I haven't felt this healthy even when I was 'well'.  Maybe, the ARVs balanced my system that was having some problems since I was a kid.  Second, me having AIDS was some sort of a family coming back together thing.  I felt that we were starting to drift apart from each other and this experience brought us back as a family and I realized how much my siblings loved me.  All lines became open and I can now talk to them about stuff that I was hiding in the past.


I'm back to enjoying life once again - working, traveling and having fun with friends.  Having AIDS isn't that bad after all.  I just pray for the cure and for no more new cases reported.  And through your blog, I would like to stress out these things to your readers:

1.  Get tested!  Even a slight suspicion of HIV, don't ask Pozzie Pinoy if you have to get tested or not based on your activities and symptoms but go to a testing facility right away.  Some offer free services, such as the RITM Satellite Clinic in Malate.
2.  Get your family involved!  Quoting my angel in RITM, Gerald, he said this to my mom: "Your son is so lucky to have his parents supporting him at this time in his life."
3.  Love your liver and drink lots of water!  Count the number of milligrams the ARVs contain.  Won't that scare you?  Love water!  :)


Orange DoublePlus

NO PLHIV is alone with his or her struggle with HIV!"


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