It is best that I am HIV-positive (Antithesis for the uneducated)

Published 04, Aug, 2017
Author // Guest Authors - Revolving Door

From the Philippines, guest author Posit Bo on responding philosophically to HIV stigma.

It is best that I am HIV-positive (Antithesis for the uneducated)

It’s been more than two years since I was diagnosed with AIDS, as my baseline CD4 then was only 195. From 2015 to this day, a lot of things have happened in my life as a person living with HIV, as a student and as a son.

This is and I am writing as a person living with HIV, so I’ll recount my experiences as – Posit Bo.

Exactly two years ago, I started a blog called the “Voice of Positivism.” It was a convenient way of expressing my thoughts and reaching out to individuals, who were newly diagnosed – just like me. I never intended to have the blog for any purpose other than to inspire people with HIV and AIDS. But that idea was misplaced, was rigidly fastened to an absurd driving thought that I am – special. I took the blog down on the last week of July. “Voice of Positivism” succumbed into a permanent state of oblivion.

I haven’t written anything until now about that fateful day when I decided to burn, terminate and forget what I considered as my haven of truth for several months. I was not restrained as to what I wrote in my personal blog. I didn’t need to filter the facts being stated. I was not at all regulated by anyone. Thus, the term haven of truth. What people were reading were the raw thoughts I had in mind as a person living with HIV. But I forgot the very essence of freedom in writing: like all other kinds of freedom we enjoy, it is limited.

On 25 July 2015, I wrote an open letter addressed to one individual affiliated with the medical profession. It escalated quickly until it blew out of all proportion. I wrote out of anger and disgust. I judged the character of a person I barely knew. This prompted me to take down my blog.

In the moment when I was writing the letter I forgot individuals who mattered, to wit: (a) Dr. Leonel John B. Ruiz of Klinika Bernardo, (b) Dr. Kate Leyritana of Sustained Health Initiative of the Philippines (SHIP), and (c) nurses who patiently assisted me from day one. The tactlessness of one person overpowered the goodness of the many persons in the medical profession who treat us well in handling our condition.

The world is filled with vast incivility which I myself declined to refuse at the moment I wrote the letter. I am not saying that what was written was wrong; in the absence of a case decided in court with the same facts it is still a proper subject of debate,

I returned online just recently following an indefinite hiatus. Social media detox, as others would call it. Surprisingly, this time it wasn’t because of an open letter with my name on it.

"Before, I wanted to inspire because I thought I was special. I was wrong. Rather than trying to inspire, instead I should take part in educating individuals about our condition in order to cure a fatal disease called ignorance."

Browsing and reading tweets or status really entertains me at times - who wouldn’t be entertained with witty tweets? Of course there are be days you get irritated with what people are tweeting. After all, social media is a single nation called diversity.

So now it’s the last week of July 2017. Yes, two years later. I made it through that day and for two years after. And about two nights ago, Ed Busim (Manong Ed) sent me a direct message regarding one individual in the medical profession being insensitive with his remarks as to people living with HIV.

Today, I am making a difference. No, I am not writing an open letter but still I won’t let it breezily pass with my eyes closed and mouth shut. Skills are easily learned but wisdom is hard-earned. Before, I wanted to inspire because I thought I was special. I was wrong. Rather than trying to inspire, instead I should take part in educating individuals about our condition in order to cure a fatal disease called ignorance.

I am not special. People living with HIV are not special, not apart from others. Our condition is delicate but nothing in it makes us special – we’re merely individuals with a condition that demands understanding from those who are capable of intellectual discernment. If people can’t understand, I can’t help them figure what they’re not capable of figuring.

I am no different from individuals with a different status. I can do the same things that they can, or better. It is just a matter of choice.

Our HIV status does not determine who or what we can be as people. Our status is merely an accessory to our character just like the degree or position we hold. The character we display in public can either be the antagonist or the protagonist depending on how we want to present ourselves to society. Here’s a better picture: (a) Senators and lawyers being sent to prison, (b) Justices being impeached, (c) Doctors being stripped of their license, and (d) Priests having sexual relations despite their vow of celibacy. Status, degree, position, or any other divisive mechanisms do not make us superior to anyone, neither do they define us individually.

What makes our lives better is the choices that we make. Anyone can elect a choice of their own, regardless of their status; thus, all our lives can be better if we’re willing to make it happen. Being diagnosed with HIV does not mean you stop making the right choices. The diagnosis should be utilized in making better decisions, more exceptional than those we made prior to diagnosis.

I was asked, “If given a chance to become HIV negative would you grab the opportunity?”

I stand firm and I answer the same, “No!”

I’d rather remain HIV-positive for the rest of my life than go back to my perverted lifestyle. This is my simple antithesis to the statement, “It is still best to be negative.”

HIV does not cause what happens post diagnosis, as the proximate cause of what may occur thereafter is the choices that we make. Yes, diseases have a high incidence in people living with HIV but this too could happen in individuals without HIV.

Stupid as it may seem to those who don’t understand, I’d rather be HIV-positive for the rest of my life, as it is in this phase of my life that I found the core of my existence. I’m just trying to emphasize and debunk an unbefitting statement made by a person whom I thought would know better.

Consequentialism tells us that ethically right choices are those that produce the most happiness. Philosophically, there’s nothing wrong with being HIV-positive because at this very moment I feel extreme joy for whatever I have accomplished so far post diagnosis. Thus, applying this paradigm, it is best that I am HIV-positve.

Hedonism is a subgenus of consequentialism and it dictates that pleasure is the most important pursuit of mankind. Today, I find pleasure in being HIV-positive because I am able to help in educating the uneducated. Ergo, it is best that I am HIV-positive.

Indeed, the world has been filled with filthy wisdom caused by ignorance and arrogance. But I will not forget that in a basket there will only be one or two rotten tomatoes that need to be ostracized. I’ll never forget the goodness of the doctors who empathized and truly understood our condition.

We may never be given what we ought to hear: a genuine apology for isolated cases of conduct unbecoming from individuals in the medical profession. But this will continuously be a hurdle and driving force for the community to incessantly decry stigma caused by ignorance.

I am Posit Bo. It’s best that I am HIV-positive! 

About the author: "I am a two year old PLHIV but don't see myself as less than anyone, because I am what I choose to be. I am happily HIV-positive."

Opinions expressed here are those of the author.

About the Author

Guest Authors - Revolving Door

Guest Authors - Revolving Door

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