In the shadows

Posted by Red Papercut on 6:16 PM
In the shadows by Red Papercut

Carefree is not careless

“No limits,” He used to say whenever people asked him how I lived his life. His name is Mark and this is his story.

He was a 30 year-old bachelor with no particular career issues or plans. He wakes up, go to work, meet some friends and go home to his dormitory room to sleep and the cycle repeats the very next day. The only days he had for himself were weekends. Saturday was his private time and Sunday was spent going home to his parent’s house in Rizal province.

A Bachelor's life

He was impulsive yet tactful. Always thinking what he should do next. But when it comes to sex, he never thinks twice. He said he wasn’t the type who would settle down with a partner though he never dismissed the idea of having a family of his own. And so he never held back his lust and simply indulged whenever he likes the girl or the guy. He was a stocky, furry bear type and would go for any type of guy as long as the feeling is mutual. He said when it comes to girls, he was very picky. But it was different when it comes to guys especially when gay social media and apps started to popularize in 2011.

And that was how we met. He was a very nice and gentle guy at first but once you get to know him, he’s funny and quite flirty. At first he never mentioned about sex or going anywhere private but once or twice after we first met, perhaps he was no longer able to restrain himself; he then asked me if we could do it. And that night we spent it like there was no tomorrow. He said he’s really careful when it comes to sex that’s why he always use condoms whichever his role would be, “nag-iingat lang,” as he would always say. He always had a box of condoms and a huge bottle of diluted lubricant. He said it was a necessity for a horny bachelor like him. I let him do as he pleased. It was safe after all.

But then months went by and our encounters became wilder and wilder and we no longer do it just the two of us. There would be a third wheel or even another pair of guys to swap with. And there were times I no longer need to do anything as I watched him indulge in his worldly pleasures. There are times that he runs out of condoms because his sexual encounters were becoming more and more frequent than the usual, or perhaps he was getting addicted to sex. I got scared for him and for myself so I lay low for a while. Until we no longer get to talk to each other that much.

And then...

Year 2012 came and we finally got to have a little get-together in his dorm and he told me he met a guy and they’re in this rather complicated relationship. He said he no longer meets other guys. But his boyfriend is still suspicious of him that the guy would hack into his Facebook account and check messages. His boyfriend was even able to get numbers from his phone and contact unfamiliar names such as mine. I wasn’t able to help him until summer of 2012. His boyfriend called me up saying that my friend Mark is cheating on him. Of course knowing the story I ignored it. But what alarmed me was the next series of messages from him saying that he got diagnosed HIV positive and Mark was the only person who he had unprotected sex.

Worried, I contacted Mark and he admitted to me that it was true. And apparently he too was HIV positive and advised me to get tested as well. After that contact, I did not hear anything from him until the next year. 

A New Life

Monsoon season of 2013 and I was already in the HIV advocacy when I remembered and reached out to him. We were able to talk via Facebook and he said he was doing fine and was under Anti-Retroviral Therapy. He said his life was practically back to normal except for that fact that he no longer does his “private parties” in his dorm. He said he moved out to a much closer place to his work. Though I was relieved that he was doing a great job coping up with his condition, I could sense a heavy heart in him despite being able to fight on.  I was no longer able to contact him since his alleged boyfriend of his still hacks into his account and still acted like a mad watchdog over his boyfriend. I do feel sorry for him for what happened. I think he was just trying to find someone who will have fun and accept him for who he was. But fate was not in his favor. 

But with proper adherence to ARVs, and a healthy lifestyle, I know he could do it. The only thing that bothers me is the fact that his boyfriend is telling anyone about Mark’s status which should not be. 

Under Republic Act 8504, PLHIV’s status should be treated with utmost confidentiality and no one, not even his/her doctors are allowed to disclose HIV status but the patient himself/herself and violating this are punishable by civil law.

I wish his story will serve as a warning to people who are living their lives to the fullest in a very disturbing way. There’s nothing wrong with having sex. Casual sex is fine as long as you take care of yourself. So get tested and educate yourself.

Life is important. Love it. Nurture it. Value it.

Disclaimer: The names and some details in the story were deliberately changed to protect the identity of the people involved as well as to maintain confidentiality of this case.


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