Yes and no. Reactive and nonreactive. Positive and negative. It will only give you two answers but you will definitely hold your breath in between the process.
I have been thinking about taking that test long before one of my friends asked me about it. She was both hesitant and eager to know her status. She was prompted after her Korean boyfriend confessed that he had encounters with few professional sex workers in Cebu before they met. Meanwhile, I also had several hook-ups but my last was two months ago from the moment I was writing this. After that, I did not take risks anymore.
I was really determined to know mine but I didn’t have the luxury of time and timing to visit the reproductive health center. Luckily, she opened up the idea. I already have a trusted company in doing this, I told myself.
But she was afraid. She constantly asked me if it would be shameful if people will see them enter the center. I said, of course not. In fact, everyone is encouraged to take the test. I told her that it would be better if we know our status before it is too late.
I thought, damn all the self-righteous. Damn all those who think it is a shame to take the test. Though it can be equated to active sex life, but it can also mean that you are taking good care of yourself by checking on your health. It is no different from checking if your heart, lungs, kidney, or other organs other than what is being used in sex are in good condition.
Morality? Yeah. Perhaps. But it has been a reality of life. It cannot be prevented. There are billions of people in the world doing the “thing” at the same time. You cannot stop them in just a flick of a finger or a blink of an eye. On the other note, how can you change your life or at least change your perspective if you don’t know your status? That was what I was thinking.
And so after I brainwashed her, we head to the center.
During that time, there were several people sitting in the sofa waiting for results but from different tests. Before we went to the clinic, we filled-up few forms with personal information. After that, our forms were given to Mam E., our counselor. Mam E then brought us to a room for the pre-counseling. At first, I felt strange because I have this notion that when you are counseled, you will be spanked with sermons for the immorality you have done in your life. It was in complete contrary to my belief.
The pre-counseling is intended to educate you about the virus, the transmission, its effects, your life cycle once you get infected, the diseases you might get aside from the syndrome, the remedies to prolong your life (in case) and caters your question. In other words, you are being readied.
Once it is done, the more intimate second phase of the process takes place. You will be asked to confess about your encounters. She throws you legitimate questions that will make you somehow feel guilty…or not. It depends how you take it.
You really don’t have to worry because at the bottom of the questionnaire, they will sign a confidentiality clause. They vow to keep your information between you and them. One of the question was asking for the number of encounters you had since (This is a bonus question. At least you can be prepared to count your encounters before you take the second phase and give out honest answers). After I responded, out of curiosity, I asked “Were there people who had more encounters than mine?” She looked at me for a while and said, “Confidential.” I immediately let go a sigh of assurance.
After the interview phase, time to face the needle. The doctor took enough blood from my arm and gave me a code so they can track my blood sample. It would take an hour before you get the result so I and my friend had a stroll for a while.
When we finally returned, my blood raced out of nervousness, at the same time fear of “what ifs”. A positive answer can turn the wheels around. This is the test you would regret to top. Mam E. privately handed me the folder paper. She allowed me to unfold it myself. My heart beat fast. That time, it felt like the oxygen is getting out of the room. Slowly, I read aloud the words written in bold, proud letters. NONREACTIVE. In other words, negative.
I was speechless. My friend is also negative. Not only a thing to rejoice but a reminder to value life…even more. And responsibility over it.
I will not be telling you about what Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), how it develops into Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), and Sexually-Transmitted Disease (STD) are and all its fuss. I will leave it to Mam E. and her team. I am giving you an overview of the testing process so will not fear or hesitate to take the test. If you have questions, ask it from the expert.
You don’t have to worry about the confidentiality of my result. I am negative. Just like you, or at least you think you are.
Yes or no. Reactive or nonreactive. Positive or negative. How can you change your life, start again or at least change your perspective if you don’t know your status? You’ll only know if you take the test I took, the toughest so far.
To be tested is voluntary. If you felt like taking it, you can go to your nearest reproductive health centers. For my Davao audience, you can visit the Reproductive Health and Wellness Center at Jacinto St., Davao City, just behind the Ateneo de Davao University. Check their Facebook Page for more information and inquiries.
You can also check The Project Red Ribbon Care Management Foundation, Inc. (TRR), a non stock, non-profit foundation registered under the Securities and Exchange Commission of the Philippines, an HIV and AIDS advocacy foundation composed of advocates, supporters and persons living with HIV (PLHIV).