By Gillian Gacuma
MANILA– As far as I can remember, I had my first glance on Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) when it was portrayed by the young Carlo Aquino in one of the episodes of MMK back when I was in grade school.
During the glorious days of student life, I’m always asked by curious friends and even acquaintances on how and why AIDS spreads rapidly in the LGBT community. Physically and emotionally virgin, I’ve been shrugging it off my shoulder and answering it with “Malay ko?!” Until I became in a relationship and experienced sex. Unsafe sex.
Right after the wild experience, webpage by webpage I did my own little research on how and where HIV can be acquired, and WTH is its difference with AIDS?
When a person becomes infected with HIV, the virus attacks and weakens the immune system. As the immune system weakens, the person is at risk of getting life-threatening infections that will develop into cancer. When that happens, the illness is called AIDS. And once a person has the virus, it stays inside the system for the rest of his or her lifetime.
So Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is a retrovirus that causes AIDS. They’re not two separate systems or virus that operates inside the infected person.
On a separate post, a more detailed facts and myth busters revelations about HIV will be up soon. For now, I want to encourage you to think and rethink about getting tested as soon as possible. Incase you’re still doubtful, within this week I’ll be posting my experience inside LoveYourself clinic in Mandaluyong.
Below are the easiest and visually appealing way to share you the information regarding HIV and AIDS in the country for the past 3 decades;
For the past years, HIV and AIDS has been making headlines in major local media outlets as number of infected individuals has been rapidly increasing in the country. In answer to this, support groups like LoveYourself and the Department of Health launched different programs to spread awareness regarding the infection which includes FREE and CONFIDENTIAL HIV screenings.
In time of hookups and unsafe sex practice of Filipinos; why is it really important to know your status?
Early access to proper treatment and choosing a healthier lifestyle
Jason Warriner, clinical director at HIV charity the Terrence Higgins Trust (THT), says: “If the infection is diagnosed early, when a person is fit and well, and they get treatment and care, we’re looking at normal life expectancy. But they’ve got to be getting treatment and care, and it’s got to start early.”
The most common or probably known treatment for HIV positive clients will be the ARV or Antiretroviral drugs that help combat the virus. As per discussion with the counselor, it will be provided lifetime by our government and support groups for FREE.
Yes, early detection of HIV do save lives. Once you know your status, positive or negative, you’ll become more self aware and most likely to choose a healthier lifestyle.
Although parties and hookups can still stay in your system, it will be on a more self aware mood.
Safer and better sexual practices
Although I always practice safe sex, there were times in the past that I performed “bare” or unsafe intercourses. A distant time when I was unconditionally in love and my barriers are all down. Believing that love conquers all, and we shall not deprive each other’s physical pleasures *rolls eyes*.
Good news is you can still have fun and all while staying protected.
Use condom at your size
Quality and fit are as essential to condoms as they are to any other type of clothing. Could you imagine if briefs were available in only one style and only one size? Don’t worry; if you didn’t realize that condoms come in multiple sizes, you’re not alone. Usually people who really dislike condoms often wear the wrong size. So wear the right fit.
And be creative on sexual positions. The crab, bull, dog, missionary, name it all! Both of you wouldn’t mind the thin rubber on your ‘thing’ once you’re enjoying the positions that I told you today. So go and search it on Google.
“I still don’t like using condoms, it lessen the pleasure of sex!”
Alright, then both of you are at risk of having STI, HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. I believe this is the period where you could test or see how mature or ‘adult’ your partner is, or yourself.
It will answer your ‘what-ifs’
Before the test, it took a month of thinking and mad rescheduling before I got myself inside the testing center. But there are no more rewarding than knowing your status especially when you’ve been into unsafe intercourses. HIV testing will lower your risk of getting the virus and apparently, telling everyone that you’re HIV-negative without undergoing tests doesn’t work anymore to calm your spirit.
I know that it scares you, but it’s more frightening to live in doubts and what-ifs. Step up! be a hero and get yourself tested.
Whatever your result will be, it’s important to keep an open mind and clear understanding of HIV, so pay close attention during pre-counselings and ask all the questions you have in mind. LoveYourself counselors are very much willing to answer whatever bothers you that day.
For more information on free HIV screenings, you may contact LoveYourself at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their website at http://www.loveyourself.ph. LoveYourself clinics are located at Unit 5, 3/F, Anglo Building, #715-A Shaw Boulevard, Mandaluyong City and 1936-B San Marcelino Street, near corner Quirino Ave. Malate, Manila.