As we previously informed you, April is “Get Yourself Tested” month!
Obviously we want to use this time to urge everyone to get themselves tested because it is so colossally important to know your STD status.
The CDC recommends being tested at least once a year if you engage in anything that can transmit HIV infection. This includes:
- injecting drugs or steroids with used injection equipment
- having sex for money or drugs
- having sex with an HIV-infected person
- having more than one sex partner since your last HIV test
- having a sex partner who has had other sex partners since your last HIV test
Since I personally have never been tested at a Planned Parenthood facility, I decided to put on my “Woman About Town” cap and go through the process so I could blog about it here! I decided to get tested at the Tempe Health Center on Apache Blvd. This particular center offers standard HIV testing, as well as “Rapid HIV Testing.” While the standard test is done by blood draw, with results taking up to 21 days, the rapid test is done via cheek swab and the results are available within an hour.
I arrived 15 minutes or so before my appointment time (they don’t accept walk-ins for STD testing) to fill out some simple paperwork with my personal and insurance information. The clinic was clean, bright, and airy, with a welcoming atmosphere. The receptionist who assisted me with my paperwork was friendly and professional.
Due to the fact that my insurance did not cover the rapid test, I underwent the standard blood draw test. The clinician who administered the test was informative and helpful, explaining how HIV is transmitted, the testing process, and conveying how they handle communicating the results. She advised me that “no news is good news,” and that not hearing from the center in the next three weeks meant a negative result. She also made me aware that they would notify me in the event of a positive result and that per law, they would also have to report a positive HIV status to the health department.
Contrary to what happened with Samantha on “Sex and The City,” I was not asked probing, detailed questions about my sex life! Rest assured that Planned Parenthood does not get knee deep in your personal “sexy business” like that! That’s for you to know, and you alone.
While I am fairly secure about what my result will be, I urge anyone who isn’t to just bite the bullet and go get tested. I know the old saying is “ignorance is bliss,” but what exactly could be blissful about having a life-threatening illness and not getting any treatment for it? Who wouldn’t want to save or help preserve their own life?
And anyway, did you know that people who are frequently tested have a better outcome after being diagnosed? According to this article, “Dutch investigators report in the online edition of AIDS: People who tested regularly for HIV but subsequently contracted the infection had half the risk of death when compared to people diagnosed at their first HIV test, the researchers found.”
If you’re afraid to take the plunge and go to an actual center to be tested, you should also know that you can purchase at-home tests online and at some retailers. I’d urge any apprehensive person to go this route rather than careening through life ignorant of your status.
GYT by any means necessary!
*You can see by that quote and the title of this post I’m obsessed with rhyming. Sorry, it’s amusing for me.
Please, check out the GYT website to learn the facts about safe sex, and get more advice on how to bring up the issue with a partner.