Friday, May 29, 2009

Today's HIV Test

National HIV Testing Day is coming up next month (June 27), so I'll reserve a full column on HIV testing for that day.

...but I accidentally got an HIV test this week.

I was overdue, I'll admit it. My last HIV test was last June at the last National HIV Testing Day; I used to test myself (or get tested) at least once every 3-6 months. I figured, I'm a sexually active gay men, mostly safe, especially with unknowns, that it's only responsible I know my status. When I worked at Planned Parenthood, I was tested for the other major STD's (chlamydia, gonorrhea, etc.) as well as a full genital exam for the untestables (herpes, warts, etc.) at about the same rate; once I left PP, those tests and exams dropped down to about once a year. Once I lost the ability to test myself at AVOC/STOP AIDS, my HIV testing has dropped down to about the same rate.
Arguably, I suppose, you could make the argument that I attempt to get a full genital exam every weekend. But that's another story.

So I went to my doctor to this week on a completely unrelated note and mentioned that it was about time for my test. "Well," he said, "we need to make sure we get that done." My doctor is wonderful and uses the royal "we" to indicate that we are of one mind on my healthcare. We're not, usually, but it's cute and I humor him.

I didn't think he was meaning "we" as in his office staff. They drew my blood and I thought: whoa, I haven't had to wait to get results in years.

It's freaky, I know. I definitely recommend finding a site that performs the 20-minute testing. I know, I know, there are some reports of false positives on the OraQuick rapid HIV-test, but those are rare and they do confirmation testing. For the sake of your own personal sanity, get a 20-minute test done. I work in the field of HIV, and I was nerve wracked to wait.

Today, I went back to get a vaccine booster for whooping cough -- yea, I know, I thought it was wiped out too, surprise! My mother was with me, and I casually asked the nurse, "Did my HIV results come back yet?" I expected a big ol' NO, but she gestured me back the hallway and I followed. My mother followed, unaware of where we were going.

The nurse pulls up my results on the screen -- NEGATIVE, for the curious -- and tells me as such. While I'm in the hallway. With my mother five feet behind me. With other patients around. And all I could think: what if I had been positive? What would she have done then, all those people around? And my mother... oh gesu...

Anyways, I got myself tested and I'm still negative. You should, too. Pride is coming. Call STOP AIDS -- 421-AIDS (2437) -- to schedule a free, 20-minute HIV test. I promise they handle the results a little better than my doctor's office did.

1 comment:

theszak said...

What happens when POTENTIAL sex partners get tested TOGETHER BEFORE having sex, for A VARIETY of STDs?... One asks "Let's get tested 2GETHER B4 we have sex, for A VARIETY of STDs?" They agree and the next day meet at a medical center or doctor's office and get tested together for a variety of STDs and ....? then what happens?...

A few references