The following is a guest post from Isabel Berney from TheThump.com who shares her experience of getting tested for HIV in New York City. Like many of us, she did not want to think about the possibility that she could have been exposed to HIV but did not know her status. It’s so easy to think you are immune but getting tested is the only way to know for sure.
I persisted in my stubbornness another seven years, through a few broken condoms with my college boyfriend, and later a broken heart that led me to perform oral sex on a couple of random dates against my better judgment. Had a slept with a ton of men? Hardly. But I wasn’t a virgin, I knew the risks involved, and yet I convinced myself that AIDS was so horrific it was better not to know. That stuck until I met Daniel. He’d grown up in a “ghetto” part of Miami where many of his friends had become parents in high school, and, as someone who had worked hard to better his situation and attend Columbia University, had a totally different mindset about STIs/STDs. I remember his eyes widening when I told him I’d never been tested. “That’s impossible!” he insisted, musing about the time he’d visited the hospital to get treated for burn and they’d unexpectedly offered him an AIDS test. It was true: these days you almost had to make an effort not to get tested, especially if you live in a big city like New York where free clinics and STI/STD testing centers abound.
|Go and Get Tested!|
Image by Aloha Angelo Cavalli/Corbis cc
Daniel refused to sleep with me until I got tested. Unlike the men in my past, with him I couldn’t sweet-talk my way out of it. As our romance blossomed, I found myself tormented by thoughts of sickly AIDS patients, of the possibility that I’d contracted the virus and had been living in ignorance. That one slip of paper could spell out my face—positive or negative—terrified me. But I needed to face reality, and give this new relationship a fighting chance, so I agreed to go.
A few days later on one of those perfect fall mornings Daniel and I decided to play hookie from work and mosey on down the Chelsea STI/STD clinic. The enormous concrete box of a building with its peeling gray walls looked like the place one might receive bad news, but I hid my anxiety.
After filling out paperwork, we sat in a waiting room for a good twenty minutes, maybe forty. My fears mounted as the time ticked on and I kept looking into Daniel’s rugged, open face for support; he squeezed my hand. My name was called first. I could feel my stomach somersaulting as I inched down the hallway to the testing room. When the nurse started taking blood, I completely lost it, recounting through tears all the potential times I could’ve contracted HIV, making her promise (which she wasn’t even permitted to do) that I was clean. Thankfully, the wait to receive that slip of paper wasn’t as long as I’d expected -10 minutes max. My results had me jumping up and down, smothering Daniel in hugs, and on my own little high that lasted well into the following day. Even if I never truly thought I had HIV it was important—no, crucial—to know for sure.
Do you want to share your STI/STD testing experience in the city?www.thethump.com