March 19, 2013: Nathan and I went to RITM-ARG Alabang early in the morning. In fact, we were so early they were still close when we arrived. But you have to be really early if you go there, Philip said that CD4 test is only available between 7 to 8 in the morning.
We met the ARG staff, they were all so nice and very accomodating, especially when they learned that we got tested in the RITM Satellite Clinic in Malate. We submitted blood samples for CD4 baseline and also sputum sample. While we were there I saw Ms. Lala, the Med Tech who assisted us in the Satellite Clinic the previous day. She was very kind, she even answered some of my questions.
It was almost lunch time when we finished all our lab test. We decided to go to a nearby mall to eat lunch while we are waiting for the lab results.
After lunch, we went back to the doctor's office and we waited for our names to be called. One thing that's good in ARG is that the people are very nice, even the other PLHIV were very accomodating and we befriended some of them while we were waiting. Nathan was called first , I think it only took him 5 minutes to speak with the doctor and he was immediately released. Dr. Wico advised him to come back after 6 months his CD4 count is still 400+. That means his immune system is still in good shape, he was given a prophylaxis for TB which he will have to take for 6 months. I should have been next given that Nathan was patient number 4 and I'm patient number 5, but for some reason the nurse skipped me and proceeded with the next patient. The nurse said they were still waiting for some lab result, apparently the Oxygen in my blood is low.
That moment, I knew there was something wrong. They will not ask me to wait for more if everything is ok. There has to be something... there must be a reason for this delay. I already had a hint what it was. And I was right... Dr. Wico confirmed my CD4 count is very low, 105. In WHO's definition of AIDS, once you have a CD4 count of below 200 and/or you have a series of OIs (Opportunistic Infections), you are considered to be diagnosed of AIDS.
Yes... I was diagnosed with AIDS in the last day of my 26th year. A day before my 27th birthday. I find it funny that I didn't cry or didn't show any weakness that day, I asked Dr. Wico of my next steps and he answered all my questions. The first thing that I wanted to do was to finish all the lab test and immediately start taking ARVs. I dont care about any side effect, I am a fighter and I will fight this disease.