Within a couple of months of coming out in 1988, I took my first HIV test. It took two weeks to get the results at that time. Two weeks. They counseled you when they drew blood. And they counseled you when they gave you the results. But for two weeks, you were on your own. In 1988 there was still too many unknowns about HIV and AIDS, cavities in our collective knowledge into which some of the darkest fears uncomfortably slipped and festered.
Every sexual encounter suddenly rushes forth, the good, the bad, and the ugly, to be thoroughly scrutinized. Did it break? Did I spit it out fast enough? Did I rinse my mouth right away? Some something stay on my hand too long before I washed it? Did I have a cut in my mouth? Did I? Could I? Did I? Could I? It’s easy to worry in a vacuum of knowledge. Two weeks was too damned long.
Today’s tests can return results in less than an hour. Instead of going off for two weeks to worry and fret, one can sit and talk with the counselor while the test does its work. One need not dread alone, which I hope is an enticement for more to get tested. Knowledge is still power and it’s still the only effective weapon we have against this disease.
© 2011, gar. All rights reserved.