Archive for hiv

Star!

Posted in HIV, pozzie life, yoga with tags , , , , , , , , on January 9, 2011 by iamhivpositive

On the first day back from the holidays, my yoga class was expectedly full with new people and their steely resolve to get on the fitness track. As we stretched out our creaky bones, saturated with Christmas fat, and sweated out the hangovers, I once again thought about what it was about yoga that has made me keep coming back to it throughout the years. I was always a nerd, unathletic and gawky, and in high school I would skip PE classes by managing to always have my period. The competitiveness of team sports didn’t appeal to me, and running like a hamster in the gym was boring and tedious. Discovering yoga was somewhat of a breakthrough in my physical routine, mainly because it wasn’t all about the physical. There was a mind-body connection that appealed to my intellectual and spiritual side while also creating a stronger, more toned body. After the last minutes of savasana I would always feel centered and peaceful, free of toxins both physical and emotional. So I wasn’t surprised when I came across yoga for people living with HIV. As a practice with proven physiological and psychological benefits for almost any type of body, it makes perfect sense.

Yoga For Life, a community-based yoga series created by Charmaine Cu-Unjieng, a Yale-educated HIV specialist, and Paulo Leonido, a fitness expert and personal trainer, came together when the two met during yoga teacher training under Roland dela Cruz of Bliss Yoga. Call it dharma. “We were together six days a week for two months. We’re both passionate about HIV. We even have the same birthday,” Charmaine says. “I always wanted to merge the work I had been doing with yoga, and meeting Paolo catalyzed it.”

With her contacts at Echo Yoga, a group that offers alternative classes to niche groups like overweight and older people, and his contacts at Philippine General Hospital and the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, Charmaine and Paulo developed an Iyengar-based yoga program designed for the needs of people living with HIV and AIDS. Worldwide, yoga is being recognized as an important complementary therapy for immunosuppressed patients. “I have friends living with HIV. I had always wondered, what happens next?” Paulo says. “So we came up with Yoga for Life, which is a non-strenuous, holistic approach to wellness.”

The first couple of months of classes were not so easy, as newcomers had many fears to overcome and needed to grow more comfortable about opening up and talking about HIV. “We didn’t know at first whether to focus on people with HIV, or make it an advocacy against stigma and discrimination, open to everyone. We were also concerned about confidentiality,” says Charmaine. But it has become a safe space: there is no requirement to disclose one’s status, and the classes are indeed open to people with HIV and those who support people with HIV. Ninety percent of the students are gay men, and half of them are estimated to be HIV positive.

In Ayurvedic philosophy, specific poses like inversions are beneficial to the immune system, while backbends stimulate thymus activity and forward bends detoxify the liver. B.K.S. Iyengar, the founder of Iyengar Yoga, outlined a sequence of poses that encourage proper blood circulation and activate glands that are known to regulate the production of T-cells, the body’s army against infections. For people living with HIV, yoga alleviates stress and depression. For those on ARV drugs, yoga helps detoxify their system. After an hour and 15 minutes of asana practice, the students are guided through meditation and breathing techniques, and it is in these moments that yoga becomes its most medicinal. “Our approach is to bring back the inner peace, self love, self empowerment and happiness. You don’t have to be reminded about your sickness,” Charmaine explains.

Feedback and results from students have been encouraging. One student, with a dangerously low CD4 count of 7 (HIV-negative people normally would have 700-1,000 T-cells) was getting sick with opportunistic infections. The doctor advised him to stop exercising. Charmaine and Paulo put him in relaxing poses. He stopped getting fever every day, and started gaining weight and getting stronger. His new CD4 count is unknown, but one can surmise that his stabilized health reflects a higher number of T-cells. Paulo shares that other students are starting to practice on their own, even employing breathing techniques inside taxis when they need to calm down.

With Paulo as a great motivator for the students, keeping in touch with inspirational texts, Yoga for Life has become more than just a place for a judgment-free work out. “Yoga for Life has proven itself to be a real community,” blogged one practitioner who had been living with HIV for three years. “Being with the Yoga for Life community turned out to be the best way to celebrate World AIDS Day. Yes, I dare to use the word ‘celebrate.’ Because gone are the days of World AIDS Day being a commemoration of the lives that had been lost to AIDS. Rather, we should be celebrating. Celebrating life going on in spite of the virus.”

For the new year, Paulo and Charmaine are hoping to scale up their program, introduce fun safer-sex campaigns to spread the message of positive prevention, and find more yoga teachers. As they run it on a volunteer basis and only ask for a suggested donation of P200 per class, the sustainability of Yoga for Life still looms as an issue. But with the energy they give out in service to others, the universe is sure to respond in manifold.

* * *

Yoga for Life is held on Wednesdays, 7 p.m. at 28th Floor Conference Room, Medical Plaza Ortigas Building, San Miguel Avenue, Ortigas, Pasig City, and on Saturdays, 2 p.m. at Echo Yoga Community Center, 9th Floor Penthouse, Century Plaza Building, Perea Street, Legazpi Village, Makati.

Source: http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=645944&publicationSubCategoryId=451
Article by: BENT ANTENNA By Audrey N. Carpio (The Philippine Star) Updated January 07, 2011

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Pride and Secrets

Posted in friends, HIV, Personal, pozzie life with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 22, 2010 by iamhivpositive

It’s time. I told myself…

My friend, Madam, and I were walking along T. Morato when I suddenly felt the urge of telling him about my status. It was just so timely, it was gay pride and the theme is World Aids Day. I took a deep breath and tried to open my mouth but the words did not come out. I was… scared?

Madam is going to the States hopefully by next year and he told me that he is quite nervous about the medical examination that he is going to have. I asked him why and he said that the medical examination is ok, but he is dreading the HIV test! I asked why again and asked him if there are any possible risks that he might turn out positive. He said yes.

In the event, they was a van were rapid HIV testing is being conducted and I asked him if he would like to have it right there. He said no, he said he’s scared. I told him, it’s going to be alright and that I am going to be there with him, I even lied that I had mine just 2 weeks ago and there is totally nothing to be scared about. For the 3rd time, he said he was scared… I asked him why is he scared and he told me that he doesn’t know how he will react if ever that it turns out positive… Seeing the expression in his face stopped me from pushing in taking the test.

Our other friend, Hotelier, sent us a message informing that he is already in our meeting place. Yep, we decided to meet up and go out after I joined my first ever Gay Pride as part of the Yoga For Life contingent. He joined us in a bit and we decided to head to Starbucks. After ordering we took the table near the entrance so we could also see what’s going on outside. Madam started talking about an ex boyfriend who is trying to win him back after his long disappearance until we ended up talking about HIV again.

I don’t know what’s gotten into me but I suddenly blurted it out to both of them. They thought I was kidding then when they saw that I was serious, they became quiet and looked at me. The two of them have different reaction, Madam was a slightly emotional whilst hotelier was just very cool about it – I think. I explained to them everything, told them the story from the very beginning. How it all started. They were just listening… and I appreciated that. I even felt like crying. Madam tried to inject some humor in our very serious conversation to lighten it up a bit. I also smiled.

Our conversation ended with them asking me to go to a videoke and just belt it all out… which I did. I am happy that I have two more friends who accepted me wholeheartedly without judging me. I am happy that they support me and treats me the same. I am happy because I was able to talk about it again. I was happy that I am slowly becoming more open about it to the people around me. I am happy that night…

6 Months after

Posted in HIV, Medical, Personal, pozzie life, thoughts with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 2, 2010 by iamhivpositive

At the start of November, I started waiting for a text from the SAGIP clinic of PGH. It has been six months already and it’s the time for my next CD4 test. 2 weeks have passed and still no text from my doctor or from the nurse so I decided to call them. Once I was put through to the clinic, the nurse told me that there are no available slots yet and they’ll just text me if there is a slot already. She asked for my number to double check if what they have on their chart is correct.

I sighed. I’m getting disappointed with how they are handling us their patients. But I tried to look at the bigger picture, it would really be difficult for them to schedule us since we are just sharing the machine from other “schools” (treatment hubs). And so I waited for another week until I can’t help myself and again gave them a ring.

The nurse told me that there is still no available slot for the CD4 test and that they are prioritizing the “baseliners” (first timers in taking their CD4 test). I felt… unimportant? So does that mean that since I am a second timer I should not be prioritized? My health is also at stake right?

She then asked me if I am willing to go RITM since there is more chance of me getting a schedule there. Even though that RITM is quite far from where I live, I said yes. I would rather travel far than wait for a schedule from SLH. It might be too late already before I get a schedule. And so after 2 days, I received a text message from the nurse telling me that I was scheduled Tuesday before 9am next week.

I woke up really early that day because I don’t want to be late. A friend asked me if I want to hitch a ride since he is also going to RITM that day. Lucky me considering all the trouble that I will be facing if ever I go there alone. I haven’t been to Alabang yet and I’m quite slow with directions. Hehehe.

We arrived early in RITM and so we decided to stay in the cafeteria first. The first thing I noticed about RITM is that it is isolated. It’s the only building, I think, in that area of Alabang. It was very quiet and there were a lot of trees that will give you a very calm feeling.

My friend went ahead and guided me to the clinic. He was greeted by the nurse I’ve been reading and hearing a lot, ate Anna. Her warm smile could really make you comfortable and homey. She asked me if I was with my friend and I said yes, she then asked me to sit beside her and got my recommendation letter. While she was reading the letter, she kept on telling me that life goes on… and I smiled.

Once again, my friend ushered me to the laboratory where they will have my blood extracted. The nurse who’s going to facilitate was quite young and I can tell that she is still a student. I smiled at her and told her not to make it hurtful. She smiled back. As expected, she had a hard time in extracting my blood since my veins easily pops (pumuputok) or as they say, “sumasayaw”. After roughly 15 minutes, I was on my way back to the clinic. I was happy that at last, I am done with my CD4 test all I need to worry now is just the result.

Wanna know my latest CD4 count….? From 759 6 months ago…. It’s now…. 795!!!!
Yehey!!!! I though that my CD4 is going to drop since I am not taking ARVs. But I was wrong, thanks to Centrum, Vit. E with Selenium, Poten Cee and most of all YOGA for boosting my CD4 up!

Drug ‘can greatly reduce risk of HIV infection’

Posted in HIV, Medical, news, pozzie life with tags , , , , , on November 26, 2010 by iamhivpositive

A drug used to treat HIV-positive patients may offer gay and bisexual men some protection against contracting the virus, the authors of a new study say.

Trials of the combination drug Truvada among nearly 2,500 men suggested it could reduce the chances of male-to-male HIV infection by 44%.

Those using the drug regularly could further reduce the risk of infection, it was claimed.

The study is published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Pills and condoms

Truvada is the trade name of a drug manufactured by the California-based company Gilead Sciences Inc which combines two antiretroviral drugs, used to treat Aids.

But this new study looks at whether it could be used to prevent HIV infection in the first place.

Almost 2,500 gay or bisexual men were randomly selected in Peru, Ecuador, Brazil, South Africa, Thailand and the United States. Half were given the pill, half were given dummy tablets.

All the men were also given condoms and counselling on safe sex.

What the researchers found after about a year of testing was that the drug appeared to cut male-to-male HIV transmission by 44%, when the group taking the pill was compared with the placebo group.

Those who took the pill regularly were deemed to have reduced their risk of infection further, by up to 73%, and blood tests were run to confirm this relationship between pill-usage and protection levels.

The research was funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the federal US body, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). The pills were donated by their manufacturer.

NIAID director, Dr Anthony Fauci, conceded more work needed to be done, but called the results impressive.

“This has been done in men who have sex with men. We need to know if we get similar results in women as well as in heterosexual men, which we have reason to believe we will,” he told the BBC.

“We also need to get a long term view of were there any toxicities. We didn’t see anything that was significant but we need to follow that for a long period of time.”
Questions and concerns

The trial does of course raise questions and concerns. Is it possible, for instance, that the results were skewed by greater condom use in the group that took the pill; and won’t such findings encourage some men to dispense with condoms altogether in favour of a drug?

There is also the issue of prohibitive cost of Truvada, which retails in the US for around $36 a day, and which makes the drug unaffordable to many possible users.

Dr Fauci argues that the two groups were fully randomised and says that drugs can only play a complementary role in the war on HIV. Condoms and fewer partners, he said, remain the first line of defence.

“We’re hoping that if this does become a useable tool in prevention, then the associated counselling will complement the effect of the drug and stop people becoming cavalier about it and say ‘now I have a pill I don’t have to worry’.

“That’s exactly the opposite of what we want to happen. We want to add something rather than have it replace something.”

Sir Nick Partridge, chief executive of the Terrence Higgins Trust, called the trial results “potentially significant”.

“It’s vital that we expand the ways we can prevent HIV transmission, particularly amongst those most at risk,” he said in a statement. “This trial proves that HIV treatment will have an impact on prevention, but that it’s not ready for widespread use yet.

“Three major hurdles are still going to be its cost, the risks of drug-resistant strains of HIV developing and taking a drug treatment every day.”

By Neil Bowdler
Science reporter, BBC News
source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-11820963

YOGA FOR LIFE W A D 2010 activities

Posted in pozzie life, yoga with tags , , , , , , , , on November 23, 2010 by iamhivpositive

Yoga for Life invites everyone to celebrate World AIDS Day (WAD) on December 1 (Wednesday) by lighting 108 candles to symbolize the faith, hope and love of the HIV community and to support this year’s “Light for Rights” WAD theme. We will conduct a special kirtan session, one of the oldest sacred music traditions in the world, to express our common gratitude and promote our continued effort to achieve stillness of mind and spir…it.

Please bring 1 pocket notebook and a pen. A vegetarian dinner will follow to also celebrate Yoga for Life’s 6-monthsary and the upcoming wedding of Charmaine Cu-Unjieng (co-founder).

December 1, Wednesday, 7:00-9:00pm
Conference Rm., 28th Floor, Medical Plaza Bldg.
25 San Miguel Ave., Ortigas Center

We would also like to share our love and support to the bigger community affected by HIV and AIDS through the following activities:

Yoga for Life Goes to RITM – Celebrating Life through Yoga and Meditation
December 3, Friday, 3:00-4:30pm
Executive Lounge, RITM
( yoga mats will be provided )

Yoga for Life Joins the LGBT Pride March

December 4, Saturday, 2:00pm
Tomas Morato, Quezon City

See you there, Namaste

Paulo Leonido +63917 388-9658
Charmaine Cu- Unjieng +63917 540-4247

Stars and Spark!

Posted in etc, Personal, pozzie life, thoughts with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 11, 2010 by iamhivpositive

It was dark and cold… the cool air from the mountains makes me chill… as I look into the other side, I saw tiny lights from the city… they are so small that they can pass as stars from where I am standing… I took a deep breathe as I am overwhelmed with the view, it was just so… romantic? perfect? … or it was a moment of appreciation… appreciate that I am still alive and was given a chance to see this view… call me drama queen and all… but that’s what I really feel…

Earlier…

Slowly, I started to hear noises from the outside… I’m awake. Today is a very special day I told myself, I should make it a good day no matter what. Smiling, I opened my eyes. It was still early to prepare for work so I just decided to stay in the bed. I cuddled with the pillows under my blanket and just embraced the excitement of what’s going to happen that day.

When I finally realized that nothing special is going to happen that day since I didn’t plan anything, I was able to calm myself. I just smiled and started to prepare for work.

At work was nothing special either, though towards the end of my shift, my boss asked our team to head to a fast food chain and eat. Whilst eating, he explained that the reason for the treat was because it’s my special day. I was touched and everyone greeted me. I honestly wanted to cry but they started cracking jokes that stopped my tears from falling…

As the night falls, I waited for a friend who asked me if he could take me out for dinner. He picked me up from the office and as I sat myself on the passenger seat, he handed me a box. He asked me to open it. It was a box full of chocolate. I smiled. I like chocolates! I mean, who doesn’t right? I was touched by his sweetness… we just met 2 weeks ago and I’m surprised by his knowledge about my favourites.

He told me that we are gonna go to a place which can make me happy, I was intrigued. What is it this time? But I was excited, obviously, I think he did a research about me. After parking, he lead me to a sort of like a bazaar but as we come nearer, I hear dogs barking. And as we entered the bazaar my heart melt as I see little puppies… I LOOOVEEE dogs! And he knows it too! He toured me in the bazaar showing me all the cute puppies like he is a tour guide. After which he asked me if I would like to have dinner already and I said yes.

We crossed the street and entered the restaurant just in front of the bazaar. I remember telling him that I like filipino foods maybe the reason why we are eating in one that day. The food was very delicious and again, I was… impressed and touched by all of what he did. When we finished eating… we headed back to the car park and decided to go home.

On our way home, I suddenly felt alarmed and worried… the road that he is taking is not leading south… it’s somewhere else… I started feeling scared… after all of what he did, I don’t know what he is capable of doing… call me paranoid and judgemental or what, but that time, it didn’t really feel right…

he drived fast and it was already late… I don’t know where were going and whenever I ask him, he just tells me to wait…

Date anyone? lol.

Posted in etc, lovelife, Personal, pozzie life, thoughts with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 22, 2010 by iamhivpositive

I was having dinner with a friend one Sunday evening at Kitchen in Greenbelt when suddenly a cute couple went inside the restaurant. Both of us looked at them with envy and followed them with our gaze until they were able to sit comfortably in one of the tables. We looked at each other and smiled. It was very obvious in our faces that we were envious, we both sighed and talked about why were still in the market.

Don’t get me wrong, I think being single is really fun. You get to do all the things you want to do… You get to go wherever you want to go… You get to flirt with all the guys who looks at you… and most of all you get to sleep with anyone you like… =) However, whether we admit it or not, there are really those nights wherein you just really wish that someone is waiting for you at home… that someone would just hug you after a rough day in the office, someone who would make tampo and make pasuyo… in short, someone to be with…. A partner…

Going back to my story, my friend and I started to talk about what we are looking for in a guy. I told my friend that he is very picky/choosy thus he is still single in his age, he’s already in his late 30’s… I think? Hehehe. He went into several dates lately and no matter how much of a good catch his date is, he always sees the flaws… or sometimes, it’s the other way around.

However in my case, I always go for the short cut… wala nang ligaw ligaw… if you like me, I like you… then tayo na… hahahaha. Wag nang patagalin… ;p though most of the time, since I am attracted to the more serious one’s… they are more into the getting to know each other first thing… and I don’t have anything against that… it’s for the better din naman. I’m very easy to please din naman kasi, as long as the person showers me with attention and makes me feel special, I’m yours… easy.. but I ain’t cheap. Lol. So sometimes I reflect on the dates that I had… the things that I did or said… because most of the time, I don’t get the second call… or end up as a friend… maybe I’m just really a friend material… and with that, I think I need some dating tips… anyone? ;p

Someone asked me, now that you’re a pozzie, nagbago ba yung mga gusto mo sa isang guy? Bumaba ba yung standards mo? I smiled. I don’t think na purket your sick is that you have to settle for the less… the more that you deserve the best right? And the best would be someone who would never judge you and will accept you pozzie or not… standards? Preferences? Qualifications? It will always be there… never naman talaga sigurong mawawala yun… did my preferences change? Maybe… I added something to the list and that is someone who understands, educated and accepting…

My friend’s sudden movement brought me back to the real word… I looked around and we’re still at Kitchen. My friend laughed at me and told me that I was day dreaming… he then challenged me that I should have a boyfriend by November… I laughed…