Begin Again: "Testing..testing.."


(Originally posted 8/28/2009)
After my time with Lance, I began my search again for my perfect match. As I perused the Internet, I made friends with someone close to my hometown. We had casual conversations, and one or two intimate meetings. What was most important about our relationship is that he encouraged me to get tested.

Other than with Lance, I had never had sex without being protected. Well, there was that once at the sex party. But that was just a quick one (ugh!). With Lance, I figured we were relatively monogamous, weren't we? I mean, he was the only guy I was with at the time, but was I the only man HE was with? Hard to tell. I began to doubt myself.

My Internet friend told me of a place that had free testing. He told me all about the tests, how they were quick, painless and anonymous. He told me about the office, the people there, everything I could want to know. Believe me, I had lots of questions. He was kind enough to volunteer to come with me. But, I was a big boy...I was going to do it alone.

I called the center. They don't have regular business hours, I guess a sign of the budget constraints of a free clinic of that sort. But, I found a day that I was able to discreetly go before I headed to work. I drove by the center, got there plenty early. I looked around the neighborhood..confident that I wouldn't see anyone I knew, I walked in. It was a quiet office. One other person waiting, a desk with a clip board to sign in, and a basket on the desk with condoms (take one!).

I signed in with a pseudo name, and sat down. When I got called, a nice older lady brought me into an exam room. I told her I was interested in being tested for HIV. She told me the options, and I'm going by memory, so the facts may be wrong, but from what I remember, I could get an oral swab of some sort. This was painless, but relatively inaccurate and also results weren't immediate. The other option was a blood test that obviously required a needle (ech!) but was very accurate and results were immediate (10 minutes). Take your time in choosing, I was told, she has some information she'd like to collect.

She then began asking me questions that she recorded on a sheet of paper in front of her:
  • Marital status: Married.

  • Have I used drugs, steroids or shared needles or the like? No.

  • Have I had other sex partners in the last 10 years? Yes.

  • Have I had unprotected anal, or oral sex with men? Yes.

  • Have I had unprotected sex with someone who could answer yes to any of the above questions? Yes, I suppose so.

After each question and answer she then gave me some information about the risks associated with such acts, that's some, were less risky and others more risky. She informed me of possible STDs that I could catch, including being exposed to HIV. She encouraged me to use condoms, be protected at all times. It was done professionally, informatively and in a non-judgmental manner.
It was food for thought for sure. Was I being careful in my sexual activities? Probably not, well, not at all. Just because I was with Lance and assumed he was monogamous, doesn't mean he was. I was not only putting myself at risk, but my wife. That was something that I wouldn''t be able to explain.

The nurse at the clinic then asked if I decided which test I was going to take. I told her I wasn't too fond of needles, but she told me it really was the better choice. Plus, I would get results right away. I decided to get poked.

She drew some blood from my finger, placed it in a little device, kind of like what diabetics use, but obviously not the same device. She continued to ask me some questions which she recorded, at all times honoring my request for anonymity. She explained that the questions help her, her office, and the organizations that test and treat patients in the demographics and tendencies of the diseases. As she looked at the blood devise, the devise that held my future health in its hands, she opened her mouth...and said...

"You've got no problem. You're negative." I was relieved. I promised myself that I wouldn't ever have unprotected sex again, unless I was in a committed and monogamous relationship.

You too can go and get tested. Its easy, anonymous and a relief to know your status. Protect yourself, your loved ones and your partners.

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