So, obviously, World AIDS Day was yesterday. I am living proof that social media sites like Twitter do wonders for public campaigns and marketing. After reading a million tweets about “knowing your status” and “1 in every 4 people contract HIV/AIDS every nanosecond”, I decided to go get tested. I’ve been tested before so it wasn’t a big deal. I just felt like doing my part as a decent human being and getting tested on World AIDS Day.
I have a colleague who works at an HIV/AIDS prevention center. Even though I arrived after testing hours (you’d think they’d offer it all day since it’s WAD), she allowed another employee to do the testing. I enter the room and she proceeds to ask me the standard preliminary questions. So I thought.
“O-kayy, let’s see…..have you ever used drugs or needles?”
She runs down all the questions quietly to herself, marking her place for each one with her pen. Sigh. “Okay……..Well, obviously, you’re here because you had unprotected sex.”
STOP. WAIT. A. MINUTE.
Did I say I had unprotected sex (because I didn’t)? Did you even ask me? That is apart of the screening process, you know. Or do you just assume that I have simply because I’m getting tested? Possibly because I’m a young African American woman who could be one of millions who practices “risky behaviors” according to your little application, resulting in sexually transmitted diseases and unplanned pregnancies?
First, let me go back and tell you that the center serves a very specific demographic. Most of their clients have contracted the disease due to drug use, incarceration or unprotected sex with the same sex. So maybe after I answered no to the drug questions she assumed the only other option.
She didn’t say anything. As she handed me the application to sign, I gave her the side-eye, as she did me. She peered over the top of her cheap readers. I had to ask her why she wrote that I’d had unprotected sex without asking me. I wasn’t offended because of that really. Even if it was true, it is what it is. There’d be no room for shame. Atleast, I was trying to make sure everything was okay. The fact that she assumed and didn’t follow protocol pissed me off.
At that moment, I started to question my sanity. If I hadn’t had unprotected sex, then why was I there? What if I simply wanted to know my status though? Maybe I just like to be extra sure of my status. Isn’t that what testing is all about? Having knowledge and being informed of your personal health and safety? Condoms are reliable, yes, but they break and tear. There is a such thing as pre-ejaculation. What about all that stuff?
After my 20 minute wait, I returned to her office to receive my results. She was already devouring a side salad and chicken wings. It was obvious that my “little test” interrupted her lunch break. Apparently, my health and her proffesionalism were no match for her value meal.
By the way, my results were negative.