It might be over soon

I woke up today with this article (and similar ones to this all over my FB newsfeed):

HIV cure close after disease ‘vanishes’ from blood of British man (link / Telegraph)

I was overwhelmed. I didn’t actually believe that I would be alive to see the cure for HIV. I didn’t think it was going to make it within my lifetime and if the optimism of the scientist in the article is to be believed, then I actually might see it happen. I might actually be HIV-free in the next five or ten years.

It is going to be a brand new world for so many people.

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It’s in our hands

Here are just a few more articles on the same story (just so you know it’s verified and credible):

British man might be first in the world to be cured of HIV after ‘breakthrough’ treatment (link / Independent)

British Scientists May Have Cured A Man of HIV with Experimental New Therapy (link / Huffington Tech UK)

Again, to emphasize the article, this is not yet a viable cure. It is the first step towards one. It’s a great move forward but it isn’t yet the end of the road. The British social worker is the first of fifty subjects in a test group. He is just within the first stages of his “recovery” and only time will tell if the virus comes back or not.

So, again, this is not yet a cure but the first important steps towards one.

***

I have a friend, a soul card reader by the name of Sandy and she’s good. I used to go to her often, maybe once a year or once every two years for a reading. Every time I felt lost or unsure of my next steps forward. I met her as far back as 2006 or 2007 and I’m always very skeptical of readers of any kind when I first encounter them. I consider myself open to these energies and I’m a believer but since I have strong empathy, I can tell when they are bullshitting me or not.

I liked Sandy off the bat because she wasn’t bullshitting me at all. She was direct and frank. She spoke casually about things and didn’t try to make what she did sound any more spiritual than it already was. And that first reading was very spot on. She was so precise in what she said and everything she had foreseen in that first reading came true.

We had become friends afterwards and we would see each other socially and outside of a reading situation but once in a while, once a year or once every two years, I would go to her and ask for one to help center myself and figure out “where my soul was and how to push it forwards.”

On my second or third reading, around six years ago, she told me that the cards had told her that I would be cured. She told me I would still be around for the cure for HIV. I politely smiled at her and said, “Wouldn’t that be nice.” I didn’t really believe her. I thought she might’ve misinterpreted the cards. I thought that since we had become friends she was seeing things there that she wanted to see and wasn’t giving me an objective reading like she normally would.

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Sometimes all they need is someone to talk to, someone who won’t judge

And now I read these articles and I can’t help but feel bad for having doubted Sandy. She was right all along, as usual, and it was I who wasn’t ready to face the possibility of being cured.

I was so resigned that this was my fate that I had somehow been able to push forward and still fight for a normal, regular life despite having HIV. It was part of my narrative after I became an HIV advocate and made public my status that “HIV does not define us; it is a part of us but it does not take over our identities if we don’t let it. We are more than the virus that lives in our bloodstream.” I would say that a lot. It’s corny but it sends a clear message and I found that it works a lot, especially when I’m asked to speak in a public forum.

Now with the prospect of HIV being cured and we might actually get to see a world without HIV, I realized that I probably would to be asked to speak in public anymore. What would be the point? I would no longer be “the guy with HIV.” I’ve been hoping that I wouldn’t have to be; that I could somehow transition into being a screenwriter and a poet of note. But after almost ten years of living my life openly with HIV and constantly being asked about it, I realized that HIV defined me. I let it. It was part of my advocacy. It was important that people heard my story so that they could protect themselves. It was important to be out there, visible, to hopefully inspire people to live openly about they HIV as well and that you could have normal lives out in the open.

I had to let it define me and if the cure happens, I’d be so happy but I’m sure there will also be a feeling of loss. For almost ten years, it was a significant driving force for me to fight and not give up. Living with HIV gave me the impetus to change the world’s view and the narrative they had given us. I wanted to show them and other PLHIVs that we could have wonderfully normal lives even while we struggle with the day to day challenges of the virus.

That will be gone and I’m going to have to do it for myself. It should be easy. It sounds easy. Hell, I’ve been saying that in almost all of my public speaking engagements. Now I’m going to have to walk my talk.

What a scary prospect.

I will be so glad to see HIV gone from the world. But I have to be ready for it as well. I have to be psychologically ready.

***

And that’s the more important matter to discuss. What happens to us after?

Because as horrible as HIV is as a virus, it is also a frightening reminder that we do not take care of ourselves and of each other. In the Philippines, our rate of infection is increasing drastically over the years. The numbers are booming and it’s growing exponentially that it has reached epidemic levels.

People know this. The media has been consistent and frequent of its reporting on the HIV numbers and the communities most at risk are aware of these infection rates. People know. People know what HIV is and how to prevent it. But they don’t do what needs to be done.

People don’t practice safe sex. People don’t have themselves regularly tested. People still engage in risky behavior and often. And they can think of all the excuses in the world as to why they don’t protect themselves but the truth is that they are complicit in their own infection.

Why? Why won’t people use protection? Why won’t people take the test? I have no concrete answers or logical ones. And this tells me that we have a deeper problem in our hands. We have a society that, when it comes to sex, are reckless and hardheaded. When it comes to sex, we are facing a society that does not care about the consequences of their actions. We have a society that does not care about themselves or each other.

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photo by Cecile Golez

A cure for HIV will not solve these deep-seated issues. These are the things that we have to be talking about and addressing. Because when the cure comes and people think that it’s a free-for-all again, goodness knows what the sexual activity of this society is going to be like.

I learned the hard way to take care of myself and those around me. What would it take for these people now in a future that won’t have to deal with the consequences of a sexually transmitted virus like HIV to take their own safety and the safety of the people around them seriously?

Sure, the HIV epidemic might be over soon, but our values and sense of safety is still fucked up and needs fixing.

2 thoughts on “It might be over soon

  1. Hi Wanggo i dont know you but admire your courage to live. Your blog inspires. Real life. Ups and downs. Its more like getting to spend quality time w a friend. Do carry on and thanks.

    • Thank you for saying so. I just think it’s important to have a blog and show that one can have a perfectly normal life even with HIV.

      And the creative life is a crazy one. We always need outlets! 😊

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