The last time I took an HIV Test was at the end of August 2009. I was at a conference on HIV and they provided free anonymous testing. I took the orasure test where they take a sample of the mucus membranes in your mouth. It only took 40 minutes in total (including waiting). When I got my test results they gave me a packet of information along with proof I had gotten my test and a free $4 metrocard.
I'll admit that I was nervous during and while I was waiting for my test. I had a lover for two years and we had agreed about 6 months into our time together that we would not use condoms anymore as I had an IUD and we had both been tested and agreed if we had other lovers to use condoms each time with them. We set up boundaries. Yes it was somewhat of an "open" relationship, I was his primary lover, not his primary "partner" as we were not emotionally tied to one another as people usually think/expect in monogamous situations.
We did care for one another; after all we gave our bodies to one another with no barrier methods. At the same time my last HIV test was almost a year prior to us making that decision. I had not been tested and our relationship had ended. I waited. Thought about support people I would have that could help me if my test came back positive. I honestly believe that if I do have a positive HIV test I probably would not tell my parents immediately. I would tell my partners and one of the employers I work with doing HIV education and prevention. I knew I would have to contact him again and honestly, that was more scary/nerve wrecking for me than having to cope with HIV. At that moment thinking about communicating with a lover who had hurt me and I was still very raw from the pain of our break up, was more devastating.
Then my results came back negative. I am HIV negative. Shortly after this test another lover came into my life. I asked him if he had an HIV test and he got upset with me. I took that as a HUGE red flag. He didn't want to tell me, he didn't want me to ask, he didn't want to talk about it. So I didn't want to have sex with him.
Dammit I'm important! If something happened to me do you KNOW how many people would be looking for me? Calling me? Worrying and missing me? It's the SAME for you reading I'm sure of it. Someone WILL miss you. There's a little bit of Leo in all of us.
I've been celibate for a very long time (or it feels like it). I did have sex with that "potential" lover, once this year, with condoms, and only after he got tested for HIV. People always assume that if you are a sexologist you are 1. always having sex and 2. rarely scared with testing of any type when it comes to reproductive health. That is NOT the case! We are humans as well. Just because I do this for my profession does not make me or any other sexologists, educators, activists, immune to fear, confusion, sadness.
Five months after I first got my IUD inserted and began having unprotected sex with my partner at the time my period was late. It was over a holiday weekend, so it was much longer and I knew no health clinics would be open. I was very VERY anxious. So much so that I scraped together $15 to get a pack of 3 pregnancy tests because I couldn't wait. That test came back negative too. I was not pregnant.
Even though I'm pro-choice, an abortion doula, and know I would have chosen to terminate my pregnancy if I was pregnant, I was still anxious and confused. I don't have an "action plan" in place if something occurs, even though I KNOW what I will do, I don't know how I will react. This goes back to my Sunday Night Common Sense quote for this week. We do feel so much we don't understand.
Please understand that I know the fear that comes with avoiding an HIV test. I know. I also know that it is essential for every person to know their HIV status (especially if they want to have sex with me!)
I encourage you to take a deep breath. Go to this website to find an HIV testing location near you. Put your zip code in. Find a location near you. Go to the testing site. Take another deep breath. Go inside. Take a deep breath. Get tested. Take deep breaths while you wait. Take deep breaths before you hear your results. Listen to your results. Take a deep breath and make the best decision for you at this moment in time.
You are loved. You are important. You matter. You deserve to know.
7 hours ago