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My future after diagnosis
Nov 18, 2011

Hi Doctor,

I'm 23 years old and from the Philippines. I was diagnosed last October and it's very devastating. I'm supposed to go to Australia for my post grad this February. I don't know what to do now. The only person who knows my situation is my best friend. I have a partner but I'm afraid to tell him about my condition. I have lots of plans for my life. Although medication here in the Philippines is subsidized by the government (meaning essentially that I won't bear the expenses for medication), the fact that I have the virus really drives me crazy. Depression? Not really. Perhaps, I'm still in a process of acceptance. I wanted to have a family (don't want to be genetic-dead end), get my PhD, become a researcher, etc. I only pray that God would give me at least 30 more years to fulfill this.

I still have to check for my CD4 count and other tests this week (fingers crossed). This will be the determining factor whether I'll pursue my studies abroad or spend the rest of my life here in the Philippines.

I just want to share that after registering in the HIV Center in Manila, I found out that there's this foundation for children living with HIV. It really broke my heart realizing that these kids don't even know they have the virus. It's unfair. Very, very sad indeed.

In retrospect, life is beautiful. Everyday as I open my eyes, let's not forget to express gratitude for our precious time. God bless us all! Mabuhay!

Response from Dr. Fawcett

Thanks for writing. I didn't know the Tagalog expression "Mabuhay" until I looked it up and found it means something like "live long." I think it's a wonderful reminder of the great potential that lies before you. I'm sure you are still undergoing a process of acceptance and I encourage you not to make lifelong decisions based on any doubts or fears you may be experiencing today.

I'm unclear how your CD4 count would affect your decision to go to Australia (perhaps because of paying for medication?). I would encourage you to explore options to help you overcome any barriers standing between you and the fulfillment your dreams.

If you are reluctant to go simply because of your HIV status, I hope you will reconsider. Newly diagnosed persons have many treatment options and the likelihood of a long and productive life. There is no reason for you not to jump into your studies and pursue your dreams. I believe, given the passion and sensitivity you express, you would make great contributions to your field.

I do think it's important to share your status with your partner. Not only is it the right thing to do, you may be depriving yourself of significant support by not telling him.

Go for it, and Mabuhay!

-David



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