So with this, I wanted to raise awareness and share my experience of having a HIV Test. Something, I recommend to all who are having “sexual relations” with men and/or women.
Having been single for a while now, it would be disingenuous of me if I said I didn’t have a sex life. Although, it is personal and not something you want to hear about – unless, you read The Sun newspaper that is.
It’s equally important to note, an active sex-life is important not only for our physical health but also our mental health. And although I’m no longer as young as I use to be, I’m neither over the hill – well, not completely.
I’d been thinking about having a HIV Test for some time, even though I practice safe sex.
With one thing or another, I’ve not had the time – until today, that is.
Also, having a test whilst battling depression probably isn’t the most recommended ‘thing to do’. However, as an adult I not only have a responsibility to myself for my health but for those I am intimate with.
So today whilst I was in a conversation with The Guardian columnist Owen Jones about policing, a friend told me that he’d just been for a HIV Test. I don’t know why but I closed my laptop, got my coat and off I went to have my own. I’m a bit spontaneous like that.
There are many ways you can have a HIV Test from a home kit, to visiting your doctor to having a rapid test at any number of sexual health centres. I chose the latter, which those with a busy life might prefer.
The test starts off with you speaking with a counsellor, just to check over the reasons for you wanting the test and so forth. There is a questionnaire to fill in too. Giving the very personal nature of the test, you can tell him or her and fill in what you want to, with no pressure. No one’s judging you.
You’re asked questions about your sex life, although I didn’t realise you actually had to have one 😮
After the light humour to relax me, the counsellor then goes off to get the doctor to do the test.
I know in some places a doctor is not always the person who carries out the test, as it can be done by another professional like a nurse – all, being trained to the same high standards.
After the doctor collected me, we went off to the consultation room together.
Then comes his attempt to distract me whilst he prepares the testing kit, basically the needle which is going to gather your blood. Never has a small prick caused me to go queasy, so quickly.
WHY do little things bother us so much?
Then, comes the result.
The reason I’m sharing this experience?
In my new life as a writer and advocate, I am passionate about social justice and equality and this includes the health and well-being of others whether to do with mental health or cancer. Studies show that many people who have HIV are not aware that they have it, which, can have an effect on their health in later life.
People not discussing testing and removing the stigma of HIV, does nothing to help the cause.
Was I scared before my test, yes, of course I was. I’m scared going to the doctor with a cold, equally though.
Am I glad I had the test, yes, I am. Peace of mind no doubt helps our mental health, more than we know.
I finish with this … nowhere in this post have I mentioned homosexuality and/or being gay, because, “HIV does not discriminate”. It doesn’t matter whether you’re gay, straight, black or white. It affects everyone.
If like me you want to know your status, have the test and go forward stronger.
Knowledge is power.
TWO amazing charities in the UK that support those living with HIV and help prevent it spreading along with other wonderful resources are the Terrence Higgins Trust and the George House Trust, the latter I financially support each month.
I say, charity doesn’t necessarily start at home.
Note: tests are normally free, although some clinics (private) may charge.
Take care and best wishes, Max.