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Saturday 10 October 2009

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Listen Up

25th February 2009

Testing Time

Posted by: Kitten Power

This week I did something I have wanted to for a while and took an HIV test.  I know the risk for lesbians is considered pretty low and even when I was with men I was generally pretty safe . . . but there were a few mistakes and the odd condom breakage.

Since I’ve come out I’ve been increasingly aware of the prevalence of HIV.  Every year one or two people from my wider social circle have contracted the virus and even more have had scares.  I’ve even made appointments at Auckland’s Burnett Centre for friends and ensured that they were supported and went along.  Was this not hypocritical if I didn’t get tested myself - how could I tell them what to expect?

Truth be told, when I strolled up the stairs and into the clinic I was feeling pretty blasé - but as soon as I my pen hit the first form it became real.  I was immediately fearful - what if despite all my precautions and confidence, I was positive?

In the consultation room I nervously made it through all the kinky questions about my past sexual experiences, about what my partner and I get up to between the sheets and about drug use, when suddenly one question left entirely stumped:

“How would your sexual behaviour change if you were positive?”

I can quite honestly say I had never thought about it, and I was ashamed.  The staff member who did my test sat patiently as I stammered and inhaled a little too deeply, trying to come up with something coherent.  My mind ran with “How would my behaviour change?  Would I still have sex?  Would my girlfriend stay with me?  Would anyone want to sleep with me?  Or would life remain mostly the same?”

I think I came up with something like “um, maybe a little, I don’t know, drastically”.  I was assured that I was low risk and even though my heart told me it was going to be ok, my mind was far from calm.  I thought of a friend whose partner left him upon hearing they were HIV positive . . . another whose world crumbled for months as he fought to come to terms with the result of a one-night mistake.

Then my finger was pricked and within 10 minutes I was told I was clear.

I know there are many of you out there living positive - and living positively.  I’ll of course never understand what it means for your life . . . but in that one fleeting moment I think I got a half ounce of an idea of what it might, maybe, possibly be like for me.

Anyone thinking about getting tested, you have nothing to fear from the staff at the Burnett Centre . . .  they are respectful, wise, kind, entirely honest and incredibly calm.

That night I told my girlfriend about my experience and as I was in her arms I asked her “baby, if I had been positive would you still be with me?”  “Of course baby!” she replied, “Were you really worried about that?  Gosh, we’d just be a bit more careful, that’s all - we could buy some dental dams.”

You got to love her, I sure do.

Want to know where to get tested? Click here

Tags: General

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Eddy // Feb 25, 2009 at 10:53 pm

    Reminds me of all the times I got tested, went through the fearfulness of it, and was told I was negative. And then there came the time when the person doing the counselling before the actual test told me my history suggested I had absolutely nothing to worry about. A little while later he came back with the test result. He told me I was positive. Half an hour later I was in a job interview situation. I was like a dead zombie. The interviewer was speaking, I could see her lips moving, and hear the sounds, but I wasn’t getting any meaning from her words. My mind was completely upon the bad news. I didn’t get the job.

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