Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Status Quo

This is not a home pregnancy test…it’s a rapid HIV test. After stabbing my fingers to death to get the 2 drops of blood the test requires, I successfully activated it and my results as indicated are negative. The test immediately detects the HIV antibody in your bloodstream and this would be indicated by 2 red lines appearing in the results window. As I watched my blood slowly soak up the test stick, my heart literally raced out of my chest. My eyes played tricks on me as the blood reached the point of no return. Of course I thought I saw two lines, then my eyes adjusted to just one..I exhaled a long sigh and starred at the lone line for about 5 minutes just to make sure another didn’t appear. In fact I periodically checked it for several hours, picking it up just to make sure. Even though I always practice safe sex and am very responsible when it comes other bedroom behaviors I always get uncontrollably nervous when I get tested. I guess when you fish in pool of sharks you will live with a constant fear of being bitten.

The obsessive compulsive in me bought 30 of these tests online and I plan on using them on myself and anyone else I get intimately familiar with. Maybe that’s over the top, but to me it makes sense. I once knew a guy (in the biblical sense) who later told me he had dated several HIV+ men and that they did not practice safe sex. He believed he was “immune” to the disease and therefore didn’t feel it necessary to tell me about his past behaviors. I completely freaked out and visited the HIV clinic 3 times in 30 days. They finally told me NOT to come back for another 60 days, which I did and all was fine. The point is, you really can’t expect the truth from group of people who have perfected the art of fear-of-rejection. Most people with HIV don’t even know they have it.

I have several friends who are living with HIV successfully. I learned through them that HIV is not reserved for crack whores and prostitutes and that it can invite itself into any socio-economic circumstance. I always think about them when I contemplate compromising my health for a good time. Being human, being male and single does create its challenges, but I’m finally old enough to employ responsible decision making processes that are based in reality not just instant gratification.

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the doc said...

Like the aforementioned pregnacy test and the HIV test mentioned in this blog entry, there are many "Instant" or "Quick" tests that are used in medicine today. There are such tests for Strep Throat (Throat swabs), Mononucleosis (Blood), Gonorrhea & Chlamydia (Genital or Eye swabs), and Intestinal Giardia (Stool sample) among others.

What all of them have in common is that they are not always right. And, some such as the MONO test, are often negative in a person with mononucleosis if the test is performed too early in the disease. Just as the classic HIV test, and probably this test, although I am not certain of this, can be negative in a positive individual if the test is done early in the seroconversion.

I guess what I am trying to convey is that a medical test should NOT substitute for the practice of safe sex every time. I am far more stringent in this advice to the heterosexual and homosexual communities since the onset of HIV/AIDS. It was a far more simple time when a good old shot of penicillin in the butt could cure most sexually transmitted diseases.

As the late Sgt. Esterhous used to say on "Hill Street Blues"..."Be careful out there".

Scott Ryan said...

nice article