My Ex Is HIV Positive!

Posted by Pozziepinoy on 8:57 AM
Hi Project Red Ribbon,

Please just call me Avery, its just my screen name. Im from davao city, last july 2016 i had my hiv/aids testing from DOH who gave us free screening from the company that i was previously working with and it came out negative but as of right now as i send you this email, January 10,2017, my ex texted me and said he is now hiv positive.

He had his first test before and it came out negative last November 2016 but just last week he had his HIV testing again and it was positive. Our last intercourse was last September and Im planning to get myself tested tomorrow morning in DOH. And if it would be positive i don't know what to do because honestly right now im freaking out already. Im thinking of possible things that might happen to me and Im not yet ready to leave my 2 daughters behind. They are still both young 5 and 3 years old respectively. Im not ready to face death, much said, if the results will come out positive tomorrow, I need to gather all the possible things I need to have in order to survive. Please guide me through what is the next best thing if it will be positive. I'll keep you updated though for the results tomorrow.

thank you very much!

respectfully yours,
Avery



POZZIEPINOY'S RESPONSE

Hi Avery,

First of all, thank you for sending us an email. Thank you for coming in and checking out the blog. 

I am glad that you had experience taking the HIV test. By now, you know that it is now scary to take it. With the pre- and post- counseling that the law requires, you are knowledgeable about what to do when it comes to HIV.

Before I answer your question, I would like to say that having the knowledge about HIV and AIDS is not enough. You need to practice it. Not only to yourself but also to your partner. Once, you establish a relationship, you need to have full trust. You also need to protect each other from the HIV. Having said that, it is prerogative that both partners should take the HIV test prior to intercourse. In this way, you guys both know that you are safe. As partners, you need to undergo the test as regular as possible. Regular means every 6 months or every year, even though you both are both using condoms while having sex. This establishes a good behavior and also, you are sure that no matter what you consider each other's health. In any relationship, it is possible for a "mistake" to happen, so to be safe and for love of one's self and partner and the relationship, take the HIV test as frequent as possible.

Now going back to your question. It is a must that you take the HIV test. The HIV tests now are accurate. It can detect the virus 6 weeks after the last condomless exposure. In your case, if your last unprotected sex with your ex partner was September who you claimed is HIV positive, then you will know if you are too. Of course, we hope that you are not, but in case you got the virus, then trust me, you still have nothing to worry about.

I'm trying to be positive here, although of course having HIV is a lifetime commitment to health, good attitude and behavior. Having HIV changes one's perception of life and like any other diseases, changes one's being as a whole. Having HIV is not a negative thing, to be honest with you. The negative thing is one's perception about it.

So let me change your perception about HIV.

1. HIV is not a death sentence anymore.

HIV is a manageable disease. It is not like cancer that you will die because there's no cure. You can live a long life as long as you you have the right attitude and behavior about treatment. 

Here are reasons why people  die in the Philippines because of HIV.

a. Late diagnosis:

Late diagnosis means late in getting the HIV test or screening. Some people, even though they know the risks, still ignore the fact of the possibility of HIV. As you already know by reading articles and stories from the blog, once you contract HIV, at first there will be flu-like symptoms, which can easily be ignored. Weeks, months and years later, one won't feel anything anymore. To one's mind, he or she is safe. Unfortunately, that is not the case. 

HIV is a slow reproducing virus. Slowly, it will hurt and damage the immune system. Slowly, which may happen in years, it will weaken the immune system, that opportunistic infections and AIDS related infections come out. These are infections, that in normal, healthy individuals don't come out because they are "tamed" by one's strong immune system. Some of these opportunistic infections are pneumonia, tuberculosis, cytomegalovirus, crypto meningitis, toxoplasmosis, etc. Most of Filipinos are exposed to these and may have them in their body, however, because of a strong immune system, they are not hurting their bodies.

Now, after years of reproducing in the body, HIV has in control of the immune system. The opportunistic infections now come out and become deadly. This is the period where AIDS or acquired immune deficiency syndrome becomes the diagnosis as a result of HIV. At this time, symptoms of specific opportunistic infections come out. For instance, in case of pneumonia (or the opportunistic infection, pneumocystis cariini pneumonia), the symptoms are labored breathing,coughing and chest pains etc. These symptoms are different from the other symptoms of other infections mentioned about. However, these are deadly infections already and if left untreated can lead to death. 

b. Late Treatment

Some Filipinos, because they are scared to take the HIV test, even though they suspect of having HIV still don't consult any doctor. Some becomes bedridden and are rushed to the hospital because the opportunistic infections are so deadly that they are in control of one's health. Deadly infections somehow equate to long treatment and expense of treatment now piles up. Some people don't have money to pay for the laboratory tests, hospitalization and medicines for these infections.

c. Inadherence to Antiretroviral Medicines

HIV can be managed by antiretroviral medicines. These medicines are free in the Philippines once one is enrolled in the HIV and AIDS treatment hubs. These are free as they are subsidized by the Department of Health. One can get these medicines when one completes the requirements of the HIV and AIDS Treatment hubs:

      i. HIV Test confirming the HIV diagnosis
      ii. Specific laboratory tests including the CD4 test
      iii. HIV doctor's consultation

In every region of the country, there are HIV and AIDS Treatment hubs based in a hospital. Department of Health also has accredited Satellite Treatment Hubs in social hygiene clinics located in the municipalities and cities al;l around the country.

Once on antiretroviral therapy, the person living with HIV needs to be adherent to the medicines. To re-strengthen the immune system by weakening the HIV in body, one has to take the ARV everyday. One has to take it at the same time everyday. One can't miss or skip medications. The reason for this is that skipping or missing a dose can restrengthen the HIV. HIV, that is why up to now there is no cure for it, has a mind of its own. The strains of the virus can mutate and can become resistant to the very medicine that is trying to contain it. Missing or skipping a dose of ARV can make the virus become resistant to the ARV that is supposed to weaken it. 

To date because of the ability of the virus to resist medications, the ARVs come in three medications. Also, the medicines belong to different lines of regimen starting from the first up to the 3rd line of regimen. Because of this smart virus, there are a lot of medicines to choose from per line regimen. 

Now, going back, people die here in the Philippines because even though there is free medicines, they still don't follow doctor's orders of every six months of check up and strict adherence to antiretrovirals or ARV. The reason for the regularity of check ups because some strains of HIV are already resistant to some ARV thus the doctors need regular check ups. Regularity of check ups also evaluates if the ARVs are effective in the specific strain of virus that the person contracted.

Again people die because of in adherence not HIV per se. Because of in adherence, the virus becomes resistance to the 1st line medicines, then they become resistant to the second line medicines. Here in the Philippines there are NO third line medicines are getting these medicines are expensive and are not subsidized by the government. 

Resistance to all the lines of regimen can lead to the emergence of opportunistic infections which are life threatening, not HIV per se.

d. STIGMA

Stigma kills not HIV per se. Stigma is the attitude of disgrace put in HIV. Because one is shameful, he or she becomes scared to take the HIV test, scared that he will be seen in the treatment hub by others thus won't go to get treatment, afraid to get his medicines in the treatment hub because one might recognize him, scared to reveal to his family or his friends his or her HIV status thus he becomes alone and depressed because he or she has no support system. Also, because of stigma, he or she becomes scared of people talking about him in his or her school, company and organization. Because of stigma, his perception of life from having relationships and employment becomes blurry.

The challenges brought about by stigma leads to late testing, late diagnosis and in adherence.

HOW TO MANAGE HIV

The way to manage HIV is very simple:

1. Take an early HIV if:
     a. One has had a condomless sex
     b. One has had multiple condomless sex partners
     c. One had shared needles, especially during drug use
     d. One has experienced symptoms of sexually transmitted infections
2. Get HIV Treatment fast
     a. being scared to get treatment is life-threatening
     b. HIV consultation is free in government HIV and AIDS Treatment hubs
     c. One can get a private Infectious disease doctor for consultation and treatment
     d. HIV medicines or antiretroviral medicines are free in all treatment hubs
         both government and private
     e. HIV laboratory tests are free in government hubs. 
3. Be Adherent to antiretroviral medicines
     a. Understand the importance of ARV's
     b. Do not miss or skip doses of ARV
4. Take a regular check up
     a. Schedule your hub check ups every 6 months
     b. Take an annual medical check up
5. Be educated.   
     a. Stigma can be defeated with education
         i. There is nothing to be ashamed of
        ii. There is life after HIV
        iii. One can reach his or her God's given potential
        iv. One can work here and abroad
        v. One can have a loving relationship
        vi. One can have children
             - as long as the viral load is undetectable
        vii. By wearing a condom, one can have sex
      b. HIV is manageable despite of not having a cure.
      c. HIV can't kill. Stigma does.
      d. HIV can be defeated.
      e. HIV can stop with YOU by being adherent to treatment.

To you Avery, there is no obstacle for you to have a good life. It is up to you if and how you would defeat HIV. The path to a good life despite of HIV has been made. All you have to do is to grasp it and acknowledge that you will have a good life despite of HIV.

Now, take the HIV test and be empowered, for all we know, we are worrying about nothing. From now on, before any unprotected sex with anyone including a partner, take the HIV test and wear a condom.

Good luck and Project Red Ribbon will always be here for you.     


Stay healthy,
Pozziepinoy


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