My HIV test came back today. It was negative. Kool!! But why did I have to confirm and correct the Veterans Administration (VA) hospital nurse who called on how to report the results? Here’s what happened:
VA Nurse: Mr. Robinson, your HIV test was normal.
Me: Huh? Normal?? Don’t you mean it was “negative”?
VA Nurse: Yes, the test was negative.
Me: Are you sure you mean the test was negative?
VA Nurse: Yes, the test was negative.
Readers, when it comes to a serious test like HIV, the word “normal” can have many implications. Perhaps the word is commonly used in such reports but in the years I’ve been tested for HIV, today is the first time anyone in the medical field has said, “your test was normal”.
I know a number of people who are living with HIV. You cannot just say to someone NOT affected with HIV that their test was “normal”. That could imply that they already have it and that current tests show that certain things are “within range” of expected normalcy for one living with and being treated for HIV. People with and being treated for HIV have to monitor certain blood cell count and activity and get constant check-ups to make sure any medications they are taking is working as expected. Their doctor has to determine that the infected person’s blood and the body are not undergoing some other physiological change(s) which could adversely affect the treatment or the overall health of the person who has HIV.
Before I go further, this important side-note is needed:
HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is not AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome). There is a difference. People simply do not “catch” or become infected with AIDS; they are infected with HIV. HIV is a slowly replicating retrovirus that causes AIDS. HIV attacks your body’s immune system. The virus destroys CD4 cells, which help your body fight diseases. It can severely damage your immune system and lead to AIDS. AIDS is the final stage of the HIV disease. This is the MAIN reason for getting tested regularly and, if found positive for HIV, getting treatment. There is more than enough information on the web and in every medical office, hospital and most institutes of learning about HIV and AIDS, its symptoms and how it is treated.
The reason I wanted to post something personal like my HIV test results is simply to share an important message: NEVER let nurses or doctors give you a “matter-of-fact” report of any medical test you’ve taken, particularly those which may be health or life threatening. LISTEN carefully to what is being said to you. QUESTION, CHALLENGE and CONFIRM what you just heard so that there is no misunderstanding in your mind. If you choose to take the home HIV tests, such as the OraQuick Home HIV Test for example, READ THE INSTRUCTIONS CAREFULLY for how to test yourself (and/or your partner) and how to determine the results of the test.
Finally, if you are sexually active – be it daily, weekly, monthly or every six months or more, USE PROTECTION but [still] GET TESTED REGULARLY, especially if you should “slip up” (meaning you and/or your partner didn’t use a condom) which is the same as engaging in risky sexual behavior. GET TESTED if you have any doubts about possible exposure to a STI (sexually transmitted infection) or STD (sexually transmitted disease).
Here’s a short video on how to put on a condom…correctly. You know, I always felt that men, not women ought to give such lessons, since WE have the “equipment” and since we don’t show women how to use a tampon, etc, but… after seeing this video, I’ll give the lady here a pass. Guys, even if you think you know how to put a condom on, watch it anyway; some of you might learn something new!
Now, let’s have fun and fuck…YES…by all means…but let’s do it responsibly! Your health and life… and that of any sex partner, may depend on it!