Wednesday, December 29, 2010

In Memoriam of Rev John F. Harvey, OSFS

(From my inbox)

It is with deep sorrow that we receive the news of Fr. John Harvey's death.
He has embodied the ministry that he has founded, his person characterized by that same word - COURAGE.

He is one of the few priests who dared to love the person struggling with same-sex attractions with the unconditional love of Father God. His ministry has raised hope for the homosexual person saying "nothing is impossible with God". We shall forever remember him as the champion of love.

It is indeed providential that he died on the feast of St. John the Apostle - for he is the "new John" of our times, giving his life until the very last days of his old age, witnessing the resurrection to new life in Christ of every man and woman who has entered and persevered in the Courage apostolate, and leaving behind a gospel of love - teaching that anyone can be Jesus' beloved.

Fr. Harvey was the founder and national director of Courage, which is a spiritual support group for homosexual women and men. He had been director of Courage since its foundation in 1980 at the request of the late archbishop of New York, Terrence Cardinal Cooke. Courage continues to reach out in the United States, in Canada, England, the Republic of Ireland, Poland, Mexico, Slovakia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia, the Philippines, and New Zealand. Today, there are more than 100 Chapters of Courage worldwide.

We thank the Eternal Father for giving you, Fr. John Harvey, to all of us. Thank you for allowing yourself to be used by Divine Providence to teach us the true Gospel of love. Mabuhay ka Padre!

We in Courage Philippines deeply mourn the passing away of this great man. Please join us in praying for the eternal repose of his soul.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Just wishing everyone a joyful Christmas! Thank you dear blog visitors for dropping by our blog this past year. I will be going on a brief hiatus and will resume posting January 2011.

God bless us all.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Stealing of Christmas

A timely Christmas reflection by Fr. Shay Cullen. Fr. Shay's columns are published in The Manila Times.

For all true Christians, Christmas is the celebration of family values. It's when we strive to come together with parents, family and friends to be close to them and to renew bonds of friendship and be thankful to be alive, loved and wanted. It is the time when we celebrate the rights and dignity of women and children, Christian compassion, justice and unselfish love of neighbor, equality and peace making. These are the great values brought into the world by a humble son of a carpenter in Palestine 2000 years ago.

The real story of Christmas is all too often lost in the blaze and dazzle of twinkling lights, Christmas trees and the image of a very obese man in a red suit with a white beard saying "ho ho ho". While good Christians are remembering and living the values of the real Christmas story, the post - Christian society has stolen Christmas and turned the celebration of a humble Christian sharing and kindness into a commercial venture of materialistic madness.

It is now a business where millions are spent on alcohol and drunken orgies and unruly hedonistic extravagance while a billion people in the world go hungry and live on a dollar a day. Powerful nations, where 86% of citizens say they believe in God, spend US$170 million a day to wage war that can't change a corrupt regime or protect the people from wicked insurgents and terrorists. The real meaning of Christianity is the direct opposite of all that.

Such materialistic and selfish living is what Jesus came to change but with some great inspiring exceptions his followers have generally failed to make His love and values predominate in the world. What Jesus brought into the world was a spiritual revolution to convert people to a new way of living where people love and respect each other and protect the rights of all as sacred and inviolable. We believers are challenged to make them real everywhere. That is too idealistic and impractical, some say.

While millions of Catholics and the people of God do strive daily to be true to the real meaning of Christianity and follow and implement the values that Jesus taught, the institutional church struggles to walk closely in the footsteps of Jesus Christ.

Today, it is more a religion of personal piety and individual salvation rather than the spiritual movement to challenge and change the evil systems and unjust policies in the world that causes so much poverty and human suffering.

Church charitable development agencies do wander throughout the world with little funds. They have to turn to the civil governments to get funds to help the poor. The church should and could do so much more to inspire the youth with idealistic action for justice and share more resources.

It is no wonder that in the Western world the places of worship are almost empty and hundreds of churches are closing and some being turned into restaurants and commercial establishments. The Eucharistic celebration of the memory of what Jesus said and did is where the greatest inspiration for Catholic social action ought to come from. Implementing the social teachings of the church is to proclaim and implement the values Jesus taught but failure to do so is all too apparent.

Catholic practice in general, allowing for inspiring exceptions, has remained secluded in the 'temple of ritual worship', that for some reason does not inspire us to go traveling about like John the Baptist and Jesus of Nazareth challenging authorities and converting the world to embrace a way of life that has love, concern and compassion for the sick, the wounded, the hungry, the homeless, the outcasts and victims of injustice. The Vatican Council of the 1960's was supposed to do just that, bring the church into the modern world as a powerful, inspiring, and morally relevant force for goodness. It is still striving for that.

What is a relevant and powerful force in the world - it is the faith and action for justice and human dignity that we see in the lives of so many great self-sacrificing Christians.

They help the needy by sharing their wealth and what little they have with love and generosity. That's the real spirit of Christmas.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Weekly News (Third Week of December)

1. Evangelization Needs Sense of Sacred, Says Preacher

Father Cantalamessa Gives Advent Sermon to Pope and Curia

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 17, 2010 ( The re-evangelization of the secularized world requires a recovery of the sense of the sacred, says the preacher of the Pontifical Household. [Read More]

2. CBCP, Palace to Launch Info Drive on Family Planning

MANILA, Dec. 15, 2010—A joint information campaign on family planning is set to be carried out by the Catholic hierarchy and the Aquino administration. [Read More]

3. House Votes To Repeal Ban on Open Homosexuals in Military

WASHINGTON - Despite warnings from military leaders and from pro-family and conservative groups, the U.S. House voted Wednesday to repeal the "don't ask, don't tell" policy that for 17 years has banned homosexuals from serving openly in the military. [Read More]

4. US Senator: Gay Ban Tied to Russia Treaty

WASHINGTON—The White House's Democratic allies in the US Senate should drop plans to repeal a military ban on gays serving openly or risk the fate of a nuclear pact with Russia, a Republican senator said Friday. [Read More]

5. Gay Support Groups in Public Schools Aren’t The Best Solution

It’s hard to imagine the confusion of a teenager who is convinced that he’s gay. More unimaginable is the pain he must experience if he’s bullied for having effeminate characteristics. [Read More]

6. Planned Parenthood Gets $363M in Tax Money, Abortions Rise

The Planned Parenthood Federation of America finally released its 2008-2009 Annual report detailing its financial figures. The report shows it received more government funding, which has translated into more abortions. [Read More]

7. Adult Stem Cells Cure Man with HIV, Claim Scientists

December 15, 2010 ( - A team of researchers has claimed that a German patient has been cured of both HIV and leukemia after receiving a bone marrow transplant that included stem cells from an HIV-resistant donor. [Read More]

8. Angelina, Bill and Avril’s Misguided Giving

What do Angelina Jolie, Bill Gates and Avril Lavigne have in common?

Answer: They’re all extremely wealthy individuals who have poured their riches into funding anti-life and anti-family organizations. [Read More]

9. Shadowing an Exorcist

A movie starring Anthony Hopkins explores exorcism. The man who wrote the book behind the film talks about what chasing the devil really entails. [Read More]

10. Filipino Figures Included in Vatican Nativity Scene

ROME, Dec. 17, 2010—The traditional nativity scene that will be put up at St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican will feature a set of nine Filipino figures that will complement the traditional figures of the Holy Family. [Read More]

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Interview with Jonathan Daugherty of Pure Sex Radio

Hello friends!

Check out this interview with Jonathan Daugherty here.

My friend JR had the privilege to spend some time this month with Jonathan Daugherty of Be Broken Ministries. He is a national sex addiction recovery minister who himself struggled with pornography, lust & illicit sexual relations.

In their conversation he brings down to earth the topics of lust, masturbation, sin and keeping secrets. He shares how he and his wife got through things. His insights are beautiful. Take some time this week to listen and to share this with others

Visit JR's website at

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Interview with Tony Litster of

Hello friends!

Check out Tony Litster's profile here and then click the link midpage to hear his hour-long interview.

Listen and then grab a copy of his FREE 7 CD Series that discuss some of the cultural constructs that are leading large numbers within the Christian faith as well as other communities to turn to porn and why so many will never break free.

Porn isn't the problem, says Tony, it's that we're out of balance and aren't giving proper attention to our spirit, body, mind & haven't learned simple, yet powerful ways to manage stress in our lives.

My friend "JR" has personally been following Tony's program for a month now and already he has had a huge shift in his thinking and his actual ability to face temptations in constructive ways which has led to some of his longest "porn-free" stretches in at least a year.

Never miss this one and many thanks to my friend "JR" for sending me this link. As promised I am posting it here on our blog. Keep sending those interviews.

You can also visit JR's website at


We just had our annual Christmas party last Saturday at a brother's house in QC. I enjoyed the food, the company, the old and new faces, and the friendship we shared for the past year. I hope to see you all next year!

In the meantime I am still reading the book Turning Controversy Into Church Ministry - A Christlike Response to Homosexuality by W.P. Campbell. I highly endorse this book to church leaders, ministers, and pastors who are at a loss on how to deal with people struggling with same-sex attraction in their congregation. I will be posting my review here after I read the book.

This coming Sunday, Dec. 19, our community along with other SSA support groups will have a book launching of Homosexuality & The Catholic Church by Fr. John Harvey, founding director of Courage International. There will be a Eucharistic celebration to be presided by Fr. Dave Clay and Fr. Dan Healy, our spiritual directors. I am still looking into the possibility of selling this book through our blog and the proceeds will help fund the various activities of Courage Philippines. It is our desire that every bishop and priest in this country will have a copy of this book.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Weekly News (Second Week of December)

1. Pope Urges Catholics to Prepare Hearts For Jesus’ Birth

Vatican City, Dec 5, 2010 / 01:50 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Thousands of families gathered in St. Peter’s Square this morning to hear Pope Benedict speak about preparing their hearts for “He who comes” and to see the Vatican’s Christmas tree. [Read More]

2. AIDS Policy Lethal Mix of Ideology?

SAN FRANCISCO, California, DEC. 9, 2010 ( When it comes to fighting AIDS, the western model of risk reduction hasn't curbed the deadly epidemic. [Read More]

3. Yahoo! Teams Up With PeƱaflorida For ‘Ripples of Kindness’ Campaign

This holiday season, Yahoo! is encouraging people to do random acts of kindness and go online to create a virtual ripple of kindness. [Read More]

4. CBCP Family & Life Commission to Launch Book on Homosexuality

MANILA, Dec. 9, 2010—The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines’ Episcopal Commission on Family and Life will launch their latest publication titled “Homosexuality and the Catholic Church” come December 14 at 9:00 a.m. at the CBCP Conference Room. [Read More]

5. Sexuality Survey 'Indoctrination in High Gear'

According to a new mental health survey, parents must accept the alternative sexual lifestyles of their children to prevent suicide, drug abuse, and depression. But one expert believes the study is biased. [Read More]

6. AFTAH’s LaBarbera Applauds Senate Vote to Block Repeal of Military’s Homosexuality Ban [Read More]

7. UN and Planned Parenthood Sponsor Campaign to OK Willful HIV Infection

A new campaign seeks to eliminate disclosure laws which require HIV positive individuals to inform their sex partners of their potentially deadly infection. [Read More]

8. New Belgian Archbishop Faces Legal Threats Over AIDS Remarks

BRUSSELS, December 10, 2010 ( – The new archbishop of Brussels, Andre-Joseph Leonard, is being targeted by homosexualist groups, and has been condemned by the country’s prime minister, after he said that AIDS is a consequence of risky sexual behavior, including homosexual sexual activity. [Read More]

9. Brazilian Senate Approves $178 Million to Promote Gay Agenda

BRAZIL, December 10, 2010 ( - The Brazilian Senate recently approved a massive $178 million budget to fight “homophobia,” a term that includes criticism of the homosexual lifestyle. [Read More]

10. Discerning a Vocation Online

Vocational assessment survey is a mouse-click away.

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Nine years ago, Natalie Smith thought something had to be done to reverse the vocations crisis. [Read More]

11. Fourth Part of Humorous Video Series Debunking Overpopulation Released

FRONT ROYAL, Virginia, December 9, 2010 ( – The Population Research Institute (PRI) has just released the fourth episode of their highly popular YouTube series aimed to expose the myth of overpopulation through humorous stick-figure animation. [Read More]

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Mary - The Immaculata

This is a most fitting prayer to obtain the grace of purity from Her who is the perfect model of this virtue and whose feast we celebrate today (Feast of the Immaculate Conception). I also added a brief reflection of Henri Nouwen on this feast.

“Immaculate Virgin Mary, I confide my chastity to your maternal heart. I ask your help to guard my senses, especially the eyes, for an unchaste eye is the messenger of an unchaste heart. Knowing my pride, I pray for that humility which invites the mercy of God. Knowing that I am human, I shall not be surprised at the urge of concupiscence, but trusting in your care I rely on your protection and all the graces that I need from your divine Son. Amen.”


In this feast it seems that all the quiet beauty of Advent suddenly bursts forth into exuberance and exultation. In Mary we see all the beauty of Advent concentrated. She is the one in whom the waiting of Israel is most fully and most purely manifested; she is the last of the remnant of Israel for whom God shows his mercy and fulfills his promises; she is the faithful one who believed that the promise made to her by the Lord would be fulfilled; she is the lowly handmaid, the obedient servant, the quiet contemplative. She indeed is the most prepared to receive the Lord.

It seems that there is no better time to celebrate this feast than during these Advent days. It is the celebration of the beauty of her who is ready to receive the Lord. It is like admiring the palace where the King will enter, the room to which the bridegroom will come, the garden where the great encounter will take place.

[Henri J.M. Nouwen, The Genesee Diary, pg. 174]

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Book Review: Shame and Attachment Loss by Dr. Nicolosi

This is a brief but insightful review of Dr. Joseph's Nicolosi's book Shame and Attachment Loss: The Practical Work of Reparative Therapy by a fellow brother in the community, Bro. X.

This book is big breaking news. To put it simply, it is a new improved explanation of homosexuality or same-sex attraction, the latest available to us, as far as I know.

Shame and Attachment Loss: The Practical Work of Reparative Therapy (2009) is written in a readable and coherent scholarly style, and it presents an even more convincing case to people who matter in addressing the problem of SSA: our therapists and counselors.

Further, the author Joseph J. Nicolosi does not debunk in any way his former model or theory of reparative therapy for gender deficit disorder, as explained and illustrated extensively in Reparative Therapy of Male Homosexuality: A Clinical Approach (1991); he builds on it by borrowing from the work of others specializing in other fields, particularly attachment theory (which deals with the child's bonding with parents and development of self-identity) and shame and grief work (particularly the work of Martha Stark). Nicolosi's reparative theory has been expanded to include these concepts of attachment loss, shame, and grief work, making this latest model the most inclusive or cohesive, to date.

To put it in layman's terms, Nicolosi says that SSA is not merely a matter of a man erotically envying another man for manly traits he doesn't have. It is about a man who has not fully formed his sense of self due to an early life trauma/s.

Because the main target audience are practitioners in the helping professions, the language can be intimidating to outsiders. However, if one is able to grasp the first book, which can be quite technical in parts, there's no reason why this new challenging text should not be welcomed. A little effort is all it takes to get past the technical terms. We have to understand that Nicolosi has to be precise and scientific or clinical with his terms for his case to be even more convincing to his peers, most of which are hostile to his ideas. Once the reader recovers from the fear of intimidating words, one discovers that Nicolosi speaks roughly the same things as the authors we've already read before: Richard Cohen, Andrew Comiskey, Don Schmierer, et al. (Nicolosi quotes these three authors in this book.) Words and phrases like unmet needs, mother wound, father wound, fatherlessness, bullying, rejection, misogyny (hatred of women), misandry (hatred of men), etc., swirl in the mind as one reads from chapter to chapter. The book is, in fact, carefully written, carefully edited, and can be manageable to the patient reader.

The main difference of Nicolosi with other authors is that he takes an even deeper approach to explaining SSA by adding yet another distinct layer to the already multi-layered problem. The good news is he seems to have finally stumbled into the real core of the problem: The root of SSA can now be safely traced to a traumatic event/s in the child's relationship with the mother or a mother figure. This trauma, which Nicolosi identifies as attachment loss (which can occur to other children who later grow up with dysfunctions other than SSA), is identified to be the one enabling the other forms of wounding that comprise the SSA syndrome: rejection by a missing or emotionally distant father, constant rejection by one's peers and social environment, rejection of oneself, self-hatred, hatred of women, hatred of men.

Nicolosi's new model neatly explains almost everything I've been through as an SSA sufferer. What specially strikes me in this book is the author's observation that, in the counseling process, care must be taken by the counselor so that the counselee doesn't feel shamed in any way. People with SSA, he says, are a specially sensitive bunch when it comes to shame. The counselor must acknowledge that feeling in his one-on-one session with the "client," or the person with SSA closes off within himself and walls off the counselor. This stage in therapy, which requires total honesty between the two, is crucial because any perceived shaming or judgment by the counselor will inevitably be interpreted by the counselee as a repetition of the traumatic shaming or wounding by his own father/father figure.

Needless to say, dealing with persons with SSA requires a patient, strong or secure, and most of all, loving counselor/therapist.

As usual, Nicolosi shows, through example upon example in his clinical work, how the experience of pain in the SSA person's life is always a moment of growth, a moment of breakthrough. Pain, the anguishing kind, the kind that brings the individual into panicking as though on the verge of death, is shown to be the only kind of pain that heals. On a personal note, I have a lot of possible triggers in life to make that pain possible, but because of my fear of death, I've always chosen to medicate, to numb my pain via the big M and P. This kind of pain, after all, is the very kind of existential pain that we have repressed in childhood. Only when it is expressed and experienced can the underlying pathological shame and grief that have been controlling our lives unknowingly can be expressed and finally rooted out. Of course this is easier said than done; it is needless to say best experienced for oneself at the proper time.

Another novel thing Nicolosi adopts in his therapy sessions is the use of body work, in which he constantly uses bodily clues experienced by the patient to expose his real feelings in connection with an event. In this process, it is almost impossible for the patient to lie or deny because the body symptoms (usually all sorts of discomfort) present themselves as hard evidence. I have personally experienced such an approach in my trauma therapy sessions in UST's Psychotrauma Clinic (to which Joe referred me), and I think I have greatly benefited from it. What's more, this step is free from the usual threat of being shamed, judged, or invariably hurt, making the healing process smoother for all.

This book is, simply put, a must-read for all members of this list. (A belated thanks to the donor of this important book.)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Weekly News (First Week of December)

1. Belated Reflections on Pontiff's Condom Remarks

Benedict XVI Did Not Issue New Church Teaching in Book-Interview

WASHINGTON, D.C., DEC. 1, 2010 ( Now that the media furor has subsided regarding Benedict XVI's remarks about male prostitutes and condoms, I thought a brief consideration of one relevant unsettled question in Catholic moral theology might be valuable to ZENIT readers. [Read More]

2. Bishop Laments Over Christmas Commercialization

MANILA, Dec. 2, 2010—As people are in a frenzy buying Christmas decorations, a Catholic bishop frowned on the commercialization of the celebration. [Read More]

3. Senators Nix P880M for Condoms

MANILA, Philippines—Senators have castrated the Department of Health’s (DOH) budget for contraceptives for distribution to the country’s poor starting next year. [Read More]

4. HIV Cases Soaring in Philippines

MANILA, Philippines - HIV cases in the Philippines are rising as the epidemic continues. From 835 cases in 2009, HIV cases have reached 1,305 in the first 10 months of this year. [Read More]

5. Evangelicals Remain Counter-Culture on Homosexuality

According to a recent Pew Research survey, the homosexual lifestyle is gaining approval among a growing number of Americans who call themselves Christians. [Read More]

6. Illinois House Passes ‘Civil Unions’ after Massive Democrat Push — only Two Republicans Stand in Opposition [Read More]

7. Poll: Women Uninformed About Medical Dangers of Birth Control Pill

In association with a conference held in the nation’s capitol today about the 50th anniversary of the birth control pill, a pro-life group has released the results of a new poll. [Read More]

8. 75% of Sexually Active Homosexuals Are Carrying Human Papiloma Virus, Study Suggests

BARCELONA, December 2, 2010 ( - Preliminary results from a Spanish study of sexually-active homosexuals indicates that seventy-five percent are carrying the Human Papiloma Virus (HPV), according to a report by Europa Press. [Read More]

9. Abortion, STDs and Teen Pregnancies Climbing Despite Tax-Funded Sex-Ed: Scottish Government Report

EDINBURGH, December 3, 2010 ( – A report issued by the devolved Scottish government has shown the failure of “safer sex” campaigns to teach ever-younger audiences about condoms and other sexual practices intended to reduce the rates of teen pregnancies, abortions and sexually transmitted diseases. [Read More]

10. Bridging the College Faith Gap

Campus ministers help freshmen stay Catholic.

As a University of Nebraska freshman, Zachary Kane led a double life. He attended Mass on Sunday — and the rest of the week he attended to his social life. [Read More]

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

AIDS Does Matter

Today, we commemorate Worlds AIDS Day. I join everyone in praying for those who have died of AIDS and those who are afflicted with the disease. Here in the Philippines, the scenario is not looking good. HIV cases are soaring. From 835 cases in 2009, HIV cases have escalated to 1305 in the first 10 months of the year according to DOH. There is even a report that some blood banks have HIV infected blood products.

HIV Basics

Modes of Transmission:

1. Through infected blood and blood products. This can happen through blood transfusion, organ transplantation, needle-pricking accidents (among medical practitioners especially), and needle sharing (among IV drug users).

2. Through penetrative sexual intercourse. This is primarily due to an exchange of infected body fluids.

a. Oral - Lowest risk of acquiring the infection. The oral giver (sucker) has higher risk than the receiver (the one being sucked) of getting infected. Although this carries the lowest risk of transmitting HIV, the presence of mouth ulcers or gum disease from the oral giver can increase this risk significantly.

b. Vaginal - Women have higher risk of acquiring the infection, but the male partner is also at risk.

c. Anal - The receiver (bottom) has a higher risk than the giver (top). Bareback sex is considered high risk since the anus has thinner and more sensitive mucous membranes than the vagina. It can tear easily thus creating an easy entry point for HIV. This also explains the high incidence of HIV/AIDS among the MSM sector (men having sex with men).

3. Mother-to-Child Transmission. This can occur during pregnancy, delivery, or breastfeeding.

Body Fluids Containing High Concentration of HIV

1. Blood.
2. Semen.
3. Vaginal Discharge.
4. Breast Milk.

HIV Prevention

1. Abstinence. This is undoubtedly your best defense. Practice it.

2. Fidelity. I am talking about married couples here. It is virtually impossible for a couple to acquire any form of sexually transmitted infection if they are faithful to one another and to their marriage vows.

3. Education. A plethora of information about HIV/AIDS is easily accessible and available on the internet and books. Ignorance of this matter is inexcusable.

4. Firm Moral Conviction. HIV/AIDS is not so much a medical crisis as it is a moral crisis. You cannot contract HIV in the same manner as the AH1N1 virus. The spread of the disease is facilitated by people indulging in risky behaviors and not through some means that you have no control of like air, water, food, etc. Thus, a strengthening of our moral values and convictions can put a stop on this plague.

5. Humanization of Sexuality. This is the call of our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI. There has to be a deeper understanding and appreciation of what sexuality is all about. There is also a need to combat the more pervasive evils plaguing our society like sexual permissiveness, pornography, prostitution, and gay agenda.

How About Condoms?

Let us read what Dr. Edward Green, a senior Harvard research scientist, has to say on the issue:

“Theoretically, condoms ought to work,” he explained to CNA, “and theoretically, some condom use ought to be better than no condom use, but that’s theoretically.”

The accepted wisdom in the scientific community, explained Green, is that condoms lower the HIV infection rate, but after numerous studies, researchers have found the opposite to be true. “We just cannot find an association between more condom use and lower HIV reduction rates” in Africa.

Dr. Green found that part of the elusive reason is a phenomenon known as risk compensation or behavioral disinhibition.

[Risk compensation] is the idea that if somebody is using a certain technology to reduce risk, a phenomenon actually occurs where people are willing to take on greater risk.” The idea can be related to someone that puts on sun block and is willing to stay out in the sun longer because they have added protection. In this case, however, the greater risk is sexual. Because people are willing to take on more risk, they may “disproportionally erase” the benefits of condom use, Green said.


1. We have a law (RA 8504) otherwise known as Philippine AIDS Prevention and Control Act of 1998 that protects persons living with HIV/AIDS.

2. If you have had multiple sex partners, engaged in risky sexual behaviors, or an active IV drug user, you are at risk.

3. An infected person usually experiences some flu-like symptoms like fever, rashes, headaches, generalized weakness a few weeks after the infection. This is the acute viral infection phase where the body is reacting to the onslaught of the virus. It is important to take note of these symptoms.

4. There is a window period of three to six months. This means that if you get infected today and you decide to get tested tomorrow, it may yield a false-negative result. The body needs around three to six months to develop antibodies to HIV that can be detected by the tests. This means that for you to get the most accurate result, you must at least wait for six months before you get tested. Please note that during this "window period" you are highly infectious.

5. The only way to know your status is to get tested. You can avail this service for a minimal fee or even free in government-mandated testing centers and social hygiene clinics. There is one in San Lazaro Hospital in Manila. You can research this on the web.

6. People with HIV can lead long productive lives. Our government can provide you with medications and other means of support to help you cope with the disease. By taking good care of your health and immune system, you can live a normal life.

My Personal Experience

I have had few sexual encounters in the past and I greatly feared the prospect of acquiring this disease. It came to a point where I experienced frequent panic and anxiety attacks. The fear was eating me up. The prospect of living with HIV is simply unthinkable.

To put my mind at ease, I had myself tested at a social hygiene clinic in Pasay City through a referral for free. If you only have the slightest idea of the hell that I went through just to finish this ordeal. The feeling was like receiving a sentence with 50/50 chance of making it through. Now, I understand why so many are reluctant to have themselves tested, yet I know it won't solve anything. And so I did it. I had myself tested.

First, the lady doctor interviewed me. She asked about my past sexual encounters. At the same time I had a mini-lecture on HIV/AIDS. This is called the pretest counseling.

And then the moment of truth. The nurse called me out and drew a blood sample from my arm and then told me to wait outside the laboratory. Fifteen agonizing minutes of what seemed like an eternity. It was too much for me and I really felt terribly awful at the prospect of walking out that clinic positive.

Then the nurse handed out the white slip to the lady doctor. She called me back and handed me the slip. I was trembling. She asked me to see the results although it was optional. The verdict is now out. I just need to read it. I broke in tears and I was really shaking. Finally, with all the courage I could muster, I opened it.

The result?


What a relief! The doctor congratulated me and gave me some post-test counseling. She advised me to be very careful next time and to use condoms (oops, that one I don't agree with). What can you expect, it's a government-funded clinic. Anyway, that's the scariest thing I have experienced so far in my whole life and I am blogging about this to sort of pay back. It is really sad to note that despite the abundance of information on HIV/AIDS and condoms you can buy in three different flavors (chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry) at your nearest convenience store, the infection rate continues to climb up.

Think positive. Stay negative.