There’s Life after HIV/AIDS

Remember that family member of mine who was diagnosed with HIV years before me?

The last thing I heard from my dear mother was that he was currently lying unconscious in the hospital.

I found out too late.

Apparently he hasn’t been taking anti-retroviral drugs for years. The worse part was that I realized he wasn’t even open about his HIV status to his wife.

The truth is I’m not really close to this family member. Even though I’m open about my HIV status, my parents insisted that I should just keep this news between the three of us. This means, I couldn’t reach out to my relatives.

When I first wrote my story to Magdalene my intention was to have my story inspire other people to get tested as soon as possible so they could get treatment. Therefore, this latest news from my relative devastated me.

Currently in another situation, a dear friend of mine told me that her sister is also in the hospital because of AIDS complications. Her situation has gotten worse and worse because her sister, due to the stigma, decided to keep her medical situation a secret. This makes it even more difficult for the doctors to help her.

I can’t believe that it has been one year since I wrote my HIV coming out story in Magdalene. Although I think that I’m now healthier than ever, I realize that this is not enough. As I write this one-year anniversary story more people probably have needlessly died due to AIDS. The World AIDS Day falls on December 1st and I wish that by sharing my story again more people will realize that being HIV positive is not, I repeat, NOT a death sentence.

Here are several points that you should know about my experience so far with HIV:

Firstly, ever since I tested positive and started to take the medicine, I have never been hospitalized, not even once.

Secondly, of course there is still a stigma, however, let me assure you that being HIV positive (or to be precise, acknowledging that I am HIV positive) has led me to a number of amazing people, straight, gay, lesbian, transgendered, bisexual, POZ and non-POZ, who simply take me as I am. And at the end of the day, these are the people who really matter in my life.

Thirdly, HIV will not kill you. But ignorance and denial will. There are people who live with HIV and yet they still manage to marry, have children and, furthermore, their children do not have to inherit the disease. This is very possible as long as you get treatment as quickly as you can. But you can’t expect to be treated if you choose to be in denial and refuse to get tested.

Fourthly, anti-retro-vial drugs are free; our government subsidizes it! You can’t imagine how lucky we are. I have a friend who has to spend more than thirty percent of his income to buy the drugs because his country doesn’t have the same system we do in Indonesia. Please be grateful for our health care system and get tested. And if you do get HIV, make sure that you value your life enough to start taking the medication.

Honestly, a part of me was a little concerned about continuing to write about my POZ experience.

Perhaps I just don’t want people to think that I’m overly dramatizing my life. However, the news about my family member and my friend’s sister made me realize that I have to keep telling my story. We all have to keep telling our stories. No more lies. No more self-hate. No more denial. It is time for POZ people to rediscover themselves and to reaffirm that they are worthy of living too.

Our lives should be cherished and celebrated. Everyone deserves this chance. Including POZ people.

First published on Magdalene. 

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7 thoughts on “There’s Life after HIV/AIDS

  1. Saya ingin bertanya, apakah sebelum diberikan ARV, harus minum kotrimoksazole?
    Dokter saya memberi terapi kotrimoksazole terlebih dahulu sebelum melakukan pengobatan ARV. FYI, saya memiliki penyakit bronkopneumonia yg diketahui saat memeriksakan diri di RS. Tapi sayang, saya alergi dengan kotrimoksazole. Pertama, saya demam 40 derajat sampai kejang2 dan harus dibawa ke RS. Kedua, napsu makan saya berkurang dan diare sehingga saya dirawat lagi di RS. Ketiga, seluruh tubuh saya ruam merah dan demam sehingga saya masuk lagi RS. Akhirnya dokter memutuskan untuk memberhentikan terapi kotrimoksazole dan akan memberokan langsung ARV setelah keluar RS nanti.
    Btw, salam kenal…

    • Hi, Johny not Depp. Pertama-tama, terima kasih banyak sudah berkunjung ke blog saya. Mengenai pengobatan, saya bukan orang yang kompeten untuk menjawab pertanyaan kamu. Tetapi memang, apabila kondisi badan dirasa belum betul-betul fit dan masih ada penyakit lain (infeksi oportunistik yang terjadi karena kondisi badan sudah melemah) sehingga terapi ARV belum bisa dimulai, biasanya dokter akan memberikan terapi terlebih dulu untuk mengobati pasien. Kebetulan, untuk kasus saya, HIV terdeteksi cukup dini sehingga saya bisa langsung mengonsumsi ARV. Meski begitu, saya tetap mengerti apa yang kamu rasakan. Ketika pertama kali saya mengonsumsi ARV, beberapa efek samping yang saya rasakan termasuk keleyengan, pusing-pusing, mual-mual, dan mood yang menjadi naik turun dengan drastis. Lama-lama tubuh ini beradaptasi dan sampai sekarang saya sehat-sehat aja. Hang in there, yah, you can do this. Salam kenal juga. 🙂

  2. Hey dude, first of all, I am so sorry to hear about your relative. I can only pray that things can get better for her.

    I am writing this to say thank you for your articles. First time I saw it was when I was surfing around the balipeduli website. The web link just popped up on an application I used, think you might guess what application that I am talking about here.

    I said thank you, because after I read your blog post about your life changing experience finding out your status (tho I didn’t realize it back then) I found out now two months later that it helped me a lot in preparing myself, to accept the fact that I turned to be an HIV positive person as well.

    I had my first test a day before I wrote this comment. They asked me to go back to meet the vct staff in the evening, and bam, I was told that I was positive.

    For now I don’t have much to feel. I was kinda expecting the flood of emotion, but hadn’t got any, at least not yet. I am not sure that either it means I am ready for this or prolly I have been prepared by all the hiv/aids related info that I know and therefore I am able to accept this new harsh reality, or maybe I just haven’t fully grasp it, that I don’t know. What I know is that I might as well expect lots of changes, good and bad, sooner or later.

    I am starting to see things differently. Words like disclosure, discrimination, running away and fear suddenly have deeper meaning. Hell, even gloomy songs of Lana del Rey feels like much more gloomy now.

    Like I said, I found out about my status just last night. I was on the searching spree of gathering more and more information about HIV. I must say that the more I read, the more it grows on me, the fear. Your posts are some of the comforting ones though. Somehow the universe showed me the way here and I thank universe, and also you for that.

    Really, Thanks.

    • I’m really sorry to hear about this. When I first found out about my HIV status, I was so depressed that I made a lot (like, A LOT) of bad decisions that I’m not really proud of. The fact that the HIV drugs come with side effects didn’t help either.

      However, I survived. So can you.

      To quote my favorite author, Cheryl Strayed, what pains you now will surely pain you less in the future.

      I think the truth is most of gay men still decide to deny the possibility of them getting HIV so they decide to pretend that it doesn’t exist. This, my friend, is even worse. Yes, you’re now an HIV-positive gay man. But that doesn’t mean you’re less of a person.

      You still can dream, hope, and thrive. You just have a condition. Don’t think of it as an illness, but think of it as a condition.

      The condition that you can bear with. And, hopefully, someday everything will fall into places and you’ll look back to this moment and smile.

      You’re welcome, by the way. Thank you for reading my posts and I’m glad that you find them comforting. You, Sir, just got yourself a new friend. Big hug.

  3. Malam. Pertama terimakasih karena sudah nulis blog inspiratif.
    Kedua, saya mau tanya POZ itu apa? Hehe
    Ketiga.. Kamu sudah berapa lama didiagnosa HIV +? Berapa obat arv yg kamu pakai dalam sehari? Kondisi membaik HIV itu dilihat dari mana selain dari CD4 nya?
    Terimakasih lagi..
    Btw, cara tau kalo kamu balas komentar saya gimana ya?

    • Halo. Sama-sama. Terima kasih sudah membaca blog kecil saya ini.

      Kedua, Poz itu istilah keren buat ODHA. 🙂 Singkatan dari ‘positif’.

      Ketiga, sejak 2013 🙂

      Saya minum obat sekali sehari. Hmm kalau saya merasanya tidak gampang sakit…

      Sama-sama..

      Kalau tidak salah kamu harus menghidupkan notifikasi kamu… saya juga lupa caranya. Hehe.

  4. Malam. Pertama terimakasih karena sudah nulis blog inspiratif.
    Kedua, saya mau tanya POZ itu apa? Hehe
    Ketiga.. Kamu sudah berapa lama didiagnosa HIV +? Berapa obat arv yg kamu pakai dalam sehari? Kondisi membaik HIV itu dilihat dari mana selain dari CD4 nya?
    Terimakasih lagi..
    Btw, cara tau kalo kamu balas komentar saya gimana ya?

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