February 8, 2011 – When was the last time you went for an HIV test? The reason I ask is because that experience has a way of shocking your senses back into proper form in a way you wouldn’t believe.
The whole idea seems pretty manageable when you think about it right? Drive to a VCT centre near you, pay 100 shillings, spend 10 minutes in pre-counselling, 15 minutes of waiting for the results and 5 minutes asking any questions you may have about the whole process.
So I woke up at 8 this morning with the intention of getting tested and ‘getting it over with’. I’ve actually been celibate for the past 3 months which is something I’m proud of.
What I’m not so proud of is the fact that my last sexual partner was my ex-boyfriend who ‘chipsed’ me at 5am one Saturday morning after finding me in the parking lot of Carni waiting for a cab to take me home.
I regretted the hook-up the moment I woke up the next morning. The fact that we weren’t even together at the time made it even worse. Prior to our break-up I had been a typical blind fool in love. Ladies you know what I’m talking about. There’s always one awful relationship in which you throw all caution to the wind. You’re so blinded by love that you think being on the pill is all the protection you need.
You foolishly trust this man to be clean of any disease and allow him to do whatever he pleases with you. You ignore all signs and rumours that he may be sleeping around to give him what you think will make him love you: Unprotected sex.
Then one day the blind-fold is lifted and you realise how idiotic your past decisions have been. The subtle signs are now red flags and you begin to think about the worst-case scenario. You clean up your act and vow to change your ways forever if you get a second chance.
Those were my thoughts this morning as I sat in a VCT centre awaiting my fate.
Below are the actual questions I was asked followed by the inaudible responses in my head:
Q: Why are you here today?
A: Why do you think?
Q: Have you ever been tested before?
A: Yes but it doesn’t get easier with time
Q: What result are you hoping for?
A: Duuuh…negative would be lovely
Q: What happens if the result is positive?
A: No idea, a fainting spell seems likely
Q: Do you know what it means to live with HIV?
A: Uuuuh no. I hope I never have to find out too
Q: In the past 12 months, how many sexual partners have you had?
A: A clande and an ex boyfriend, don’t judge me
Q: In your last sexual experience did you use protection?
A: If I did I wouldn’t be here
Q: What is your occupation?
A: Eerr…lets go with student, that would explain me being irresponsible right?
Q: In the event that the result is positive, would you be interested in joining one of our support groups?
A: We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it. After I wake up from my fainting spell that is.
Q: Do you have any more questions?
A: How much longer do we have to do this?
The 15 minutes of waiting that followed felt like 2.5 hours. I was wearing dark sun-glasses so the fact that I couldn’t quite see how my results were shaping up in the table in front of me didn’t help things.
So I sat, said a prayer, and then made a promise to myself to never give anyone the benefit of the doubt when it comes to using protection.
When I finally got my results I felt like I had been re-born. I was negative. My drive home was a bit of a blur but I’ll never forget those 30 minutes I spent in that room.
My advice to you? If there is ANY reason why you may need to get tested, just do it. The relief you feel afterwards is well worth the wait.
And if your results are indeed positive, you’ll cross that bridge when you get to it. Have faith.