Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Day 7.5 kbw goes for HIV test

For World Aids Day, I encouraged my students and colleagues at SIUC to go and take a free HIV test c/o the local county health department. Much shifting, hemming and hawing among the undergraduates, and I even offered extra credit for end of term motivation. After lunch, I went for my test, but they had lines and I got a safe sex kit to keep me occupied until I could return.

After office hours and more motivational chats with students, I went for my test, which used an OraSure mouth scraping instead of blood work. This test does not involve blood or needles and is very accurate. My test took place in a private screened area, my long-time friend "Chris" took down my personal information, brief discussion list of any recent-if ever risky behaviors (injectable drugs, sex in exchange for money, drugs, goods, intoxicated sex, and anonymous sex among others), as well as the last time I had unprotected sex.

Then then we opened the test kit...which consisted of a blue plastic scraper with a coated white end for the mouth and a tube for the collected skin cells.

I scraped on the inside of both cheeks and gums and then kept the white end in my mouth for four or so minutes while Chris gave me counseling on what I and family might do if I had a positive result, how I would react (first thought "damn" ) and then seek medical treatment, and that I would have access to local health department facilities around the USA. If negative, I learned what I could do in the future to protect myself and partners, including condoms, dams, and non-microwaveable plastic wrap.

I took the scraper out of my mouth and put it into a small white tube containing preservative, reattached the lid and handed it over to Chris ( no photos of this process). My tube has only an identification number and I am to go and get my results on 10 December with my number and in a private session with a nurse. The entire session took around 25 minutes with some discussion of how to use my Blackberry camera.

I got another safe sex kit....for educational purposes, of course....

one small packet holds eight condoms, two lube packets, instructions, local card for information

So there-- stop worrying and take advantage of the free and anonymous HIV testing, which is also held on alternative 1st and 3rd Thursdays , 2-6pm at Newman Center and 2nd and 4th Thursdays at Longbranch Coffee House from 2-6pm in Carbondale, IL

I did it...and I encourage others to be brave and check on their status as well...instead of the head in the sand approach that I heard from some of my students today. I will report on my results next week.

Balinese cat Madhu inspects contents of the safe sex kit

Meanwhile, I am locating some music for my next post...for Day 8....and will include some Ms. Aretha Franklin, among others.....

P.S. I got my "negative" HIV status results on 10 December and based on my counseling I can keep my status that way, too.

No comments: