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Friday, 4 April 2014

My First Time at an Anonymous HIV Screening

So today, after weeks of dilly-dallying, I finally made an appointment and went for my first anonymous HIV screening. Within the past 10 months, I've had maybe about two occasions where the guys I was having fun with attempted to enter me without protection. The incident happened within the heat of the moment which can be re-read here and here

I know, I know. It's not a big deal for somebody who didn't go all the way with full penetration, but with pre-cum and exposed wounds and tears in the anal area these days, you just never know. Let's just say that with everything that has been going on in my life, the worse always happens when you least expect it to. So I am going to be smart in taking responsibility for my own life.

The place I went to is an independent foundation that offers anonymous HIV screening to an array of candidates such as transsexuals, sex workers, men-who-have-sex with men (yup, their term) and drug users. Basically individuals within the country who can't openly go to a normal clinic and tell the doctor these things. 

During my hour long journey to the centre, I didn't feel anything at all. For I relate it very much to the emotions of how I felt the first time I was walking to the gay bar and sauna about three years ago. But then again, no matter how much you say it doesn't affect you, there is always that slight tingle of anxiety behind your head with the question: "What if it was positive and you have it? What would you do? Do you really think you can still be this calm and composed?"

Then the other side of my head went: "Okay M,  let's not be dramatic. Being positive doesn't necessarily mean death nowadays. There's nothing we can do no more to change what has been done if it does turn out for the worse. Let's not worry about that and just move forward with living your life. I mean, aren't you sick of all the issues you're going through already? Come on. It's not like this is your first year as a human being. Just shush! Stop over-thinking unnecessarily."

The centre was located in this really dodgy area of the city. I dreaded the long walk because for some reason, I felt like the whole world was watching me on camera. I arrived, filled in the forms and waited for my number to be called. There were a number of other guys at the centre too. Some were shy, some were silently judging others, and some who were conspicuously nervous and shaking. I could literally feel all kinds of energy in the waiting room, but ignored them all and minded my own business because I don't have time for other people's emotions.

The lady that attended to me was American and a volunteer. As we shot the breeze over some paperwork, she reminded me so much of my love for the free world, and how I aspire to build my life in a cultural environment where I can genuinely be who I am in the face of freedom and equality. At least, in comparison to where I am at the moment.

Not long after, my number was called and I went into the screening room. "Have you ever thought about what you're going to do if the results do come out positive? Have you prepared yourself?", asked another volunteer. I gave him my thoughts and he seems pretty confident that I am aware of what it means.

He told me that if it was positive, I will have to go to a hospital and get it confirmed. If the results are negative, then it's safe to say that I am clear because I am within the period where it would be detected.

He pricked my finger and dripped my blood sample into the tester. Fast forward 30 minutes later, the results came out negative and I was clear. It felt good being able to conclude that I can concretely move on without worrying at the back of my head if the last two vulnerable occasions did put me at risk. 

But what I did learn from this visit however, is that apart from it being about me, taking responsibility for my own life and getting myself tested, is that it also ignited a more powerful sense of compassion and respect in me for every other positive/negative person who went through a similar process.

1 comment:

  1. the first time i went i was so calm .... few days later when before i got my results i was starting to wonder "what if I hit the jackpot and what am i going to do for the rest of my life" ... i'm very fortunate that I'm negative as well .. but sadly i got chlamydia and it's treatable. ... not sure about my status now but i will have to go for another checkup.