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10 Years Of Battle

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Published by: T Stylist

A story of love, life and rejections of an HIV victim
I asked the Lord to give me a chance not for myself but for the people that I love.

Not everybody has the privilege of having the love and support of the people they call family. Some are unwanted, rejected and disowned. Well, unfortunate as it is but this is the world my life revolves in.

When my parents got to know that they were pregnant, their world fell apart. I was unwanted because they had other plans and expectations. They wanted to migrate to the states but since I came as a surprise, all plans of migration were all thrown away.

Somehow, my existence didn’t exactly give them the joy they all expected. I gave them disappointments after disappointments instead. And though I was the only boy, I never felt or received any special favor that’s because my other siblings are exceptionally brilliant, while me, I was struggling to find place with my love for art. But my mother never understood what my heart was yearning for.

My love for art and fashion was seen as a mere impractical pursuit because she wanted me to do something else. She wanted that I would be a doctor like my uncle. But I disliked even the mere thought of it.

So growing up, I never had my family’s love and support with what I wanted to do with my life. Instead, I found refuge from someone else whom I met when I was in college. He was a doctor and he was 30 years my senior.

With him, I found the love I never felt with my family. So I clung on and ended up having a romantic relationship with him. I was only 18 years old and he was 48. That was a big age gap but it didn’t matter because my love for him was all that mattered then.

I was young and never knew the dangers of the actions I made as a result of premature choices. My boyfriend and I had sexual contact without protection. And I didn’t know that he had HIV and I inevitably got what he had. This happened in 2010 and I was only 18 years old.

When I found out about my disease, I was clueless with the magnitude of the social stigma and discrimination I would receive. And when the uneventful day came that my mother got to know what I have, she blurted out words that scarred me emotionally. She told me how much she abhors me and what I have. I was disowned by my own family because of the embarrassment I brought. I never knew where to turn to because I was discriminated by my own flesh and blood.

After I graduated from college, I decided to leave the place I once called home. I needed a fresh start some place else that understands my passion for fashion and art. I fled to Manila and worked as a stylist in one of the leading television companies in the country.

I had the time of life. My career was leading its way up, I was happy in finding new friends, and my disease never caused me any pain despite the fact that I never took any medication since I was diagnosed with it. I thought I was having my second chances and starting a new life until the coin was tossed and reversed the temporary luck I was enjoying.

The landlady of the place I was renting soon found out about my medical condition through the house help who was cleaning my room. She found the red envelope with my medical diagnosis. That same night I was unjustly kicked out from my place because my landlady didn’t want anyone with my condition to stay at her place because I might contaminate and harm the other tenants through the house utensils we shared.

I immediately packed my things as I was driven away like a stray dog. I became homeless in the heart of Manila for the next three days. I suffered because of the ignorance of someone else. I did not contest to avoid escalading the issue. I rested my case and let their judgments rule over though I knew I have the right to seek legal actions.  I kept my silence and cried it all out to myself.

The following events got worse than expected. After seven years of no medical interventions, my body reaped the inescapable consequence of a wrong turn made almost a decade ago. In 2016, I had secondary degree infection that got into my system. Ninety-seven percent (97%) of my body was occupied by the virus. As a result, my left arm was paralyzed and my left eye lost its sight.

I was admitted in St. Luke’s Hospital in BGC after my most traumatic attack. I was brought there by my friends who rescued me after I lost consciousness. I stayed there for the next seven weeks. I received the best treatment because I was admitted in the country’s best, but, most expensive hospital. Let’s admit it, quality health and medical interventions are expensive to say the least.

I was temporarily relieved from my medical ordeal but the financial torments took over really quickly when I was shown my financial statement after my 7 weeks in the hospital. I was billed with over half a million pesos for my medical expenses. I used my life savings to pay for everything but it wasn’t enough. I even cried at the billing office just so they would pity and consider me as a charity case, but it was to no avail. That time, I even thought of going to jail because I could not fully pay my hospital debt.

In my trying times, I learned to lean on to no other but God because I didn’t have anyone else. Unexpectedly, support came in and helped me settle with the hospital.

But my battles did not end there. It continues up to this very day as the prejudice and discrimination continue because of the people’s ignorance to my disease. But compared before, I am in a much better place.  Though in between the 10 years of battle I almost lost hope and I didn’t have the support of my family, but the Lord never fails to remind me that He has better plans for my life. So, I never fail to ask Him to give me a second chance not just for myself but for the people that I love.

T Stylist
(real name is anonymized to maintain confidentiality)

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