Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Have (lack of) Knowledge

I have been visiting the "School For The Gifted" these past few days and for the next few weeks. It's the time of the year, I have to visit the school every 6 months for health checks. One Thursday, there I was, sitting in one corner listening to some songs stored in my phone. I watched people as they come and line up for their check up. I saw familiar faces, but never did I talked to them. As the hours passed by, individuals merged into groups. There was this one big group, a seemingly noisy and happy group, chatting in one side outside the ward. The group composed of different ages and gay genres. They asked me some questions and I eventually gave in, so I talked and joined their noisy group. They thought I was an OFW and I contracted the virus outside the country. I said no, "local po yung virus hindi imported", I uttered. After a few moments, I was hungry and my name is far from getting called, so my turn is probably not in the next hour. I said I am going to eat and few of them said they were hungry too so they wanted to join me. So we went to the hospital's pantry. While we were eating, it was my turn to ask them questions, I asked for their "student numbers", that way I will be able to tell what year they were enrolled. One was my "batchmate", the others were just enrolled this year. Then they discussed among themselves how they were infected. I was shocked to hear when they said that it took a a week or two from their last sex that they decided to get tested and there they are. So they thought they got it from "that" last men they were with just weeks ago. What they know all along is that the virus can be detected within the first few weeks. One of them jokingly said that during January, the enrollment rises because a lot of gay men flock to Puerto Galera and Boracay during December, then it rises once again during summer because gay men are all fucking around in beaches. He was trying to point out that after a month of the fucking-peak-season, cases go up. I asked to confirm if what I heard was right. He said yes, I was shocked. I asked how is that possible? He said, because after going on vacation and sleeping with a number of men, most gays tend to be scared and flock the hospital after vacation. I said, that the virus is undetectable after the first day of infection up to 3 to 6 months. That's why the HIV/AIDS test must be done after every 6 months, because there's no point in getting tested if there are not enough virus to be seen in tests or if the window period is not long enough for the virus to multiply and be detected.

I just couldn't believe my ears from what I heard. Coming from them who belong to a group that's supposed to educate People Living with HIV, such misunderstood facts about the virus. I thought all along that people like me are suppose to know a hefty amount of correct facts about our condition and the virus that causes it. I was wrong.

I am not going to join that particular group in their little gathering and chit-chat again. After all, you are who you are with. I know I could have done something to straighten up the facts that they know about our condition, but being the closet hermit that I am, I chose to back off. I have an alter ego anyway, who is very much alive online. Canonista will continue to proliferate correct data and facts about HIV/AIDS and educate those who are in need of such, who is practically everyone; and will continue this mini advocacy through the Bohemian Diary.

I am not saying I know a lot, but what I share to the world through this blog is out of research and facts not hearsay and just from small talks. Which makes me think to create an HIV/AIDS FAQ page in this blog, and it just might be a good idea.

School = Hospital
Student Number = Patient Number
Vitamins = ARV
Enrolled = Diagnosed
Dorm = Ward


  1. Yikes. This is scary. Misinformation may very well be the reason why HIV proliferates the way it does right now.

  2. It is scary, very scary. It could be the very reason why the cases are going up.

  3. what could be worse is being maleducated about one's disease. this too is a food for thought: http://opinion.inquirer.net/6247/power-in-mindanao-and-political-will-on-aids.

  4. maganda yung FAQ na idea.. nung napapraning ako sa ganyang usapan, i really needed a one-stop location for all the info i need. kahit a list lang of testing centers by city. that would really really help.

    wala lang.. medyo unsolicited. sorry naman. ;p

  5. I would have to agree with Juan. It is misinformation at its worst, experts as we may think but misses the vital parts which might do good to the patient.

  6. Couldn't help but get into the discussion. Been going through online forums regarding testing and seroconversion and here's what I've picked up.

    "There are many myths and misconceptions surrounding HIV because it has to do with sexual activity and many people are squeamish or even downright judgemental when it comes to sexual behaviours."

    HIV doesn't "incubate" in three to six months. A vast majority (but not all) of people would seroconvert, have detectable antibodies and test positive in six weeks as the average time for seroconversion takes around 22 days.

    We now have modern testing methods to give us an idea about our status early on after the last possible exposure (eg. 3rd generation ELISAs and 4th gen Ag/Ab testing combo).

    But while a 6-week negative is highly encouraging, it must be confirmed at a three-month point. USA CDC regards a three-month result as conclusive and confirmatory. Testing positive at six months is a rare case (like for those with severely compromised immune systems) and testing during this period is only warranted for those who were clearly exposed to the virus by a confirmed HIV+ partner.

    I have a feeling some of our medical practitioners and health service providers here in the Philippines are quite outdated regarding knowledge on HIV. I hope DOH does something about this.

    More myths dispelled at http://www.medhelp.org/user_journals/show/88524/HIV-THE-FACTS