One of the steps towards an effective response to HIV is testing. A negative result offers an opportunity for you to watch your behavior to try and stay negative. A positive result is an opportunity for you to start life-saving treatment. This message has been going out for years now but there are still many adults who have never taken an HIV test or those who have not done so recently, despite engaging in risky behavior.
The last time I did an HIV test was in 2007. Several times I had thought about doing another test over the years but something always got in the way. Sometimes it was work, sometimes it was my fear of needles. Mostly, I did not want to do my test in an environment where I would be recognised in case the result came back positive.
So when I visited a doctor recently, she said it had been too long and that I needed to be screened. I said 'fine', but inside I was shaking like a leaf. As a sample of my blood was being taken, lots of things ran through my mind. What if I was HIV positive? For how long was I going to be able to keep the news to myself? How will I break the news to my family? I thought about just making a public declaration, to put an end to all the speculation.
I started to think about my behavior over the last few years, trying to think if there was a chance that I could be positive. I had heard stories about guys who knew they were living with HIV and used needles to sabotage condoms in their package. I suddenly became paranoid, thinking about which of my exes may have been capable of doing something like that. I settled on the most likely candidate and started to think what I was going to do to him.
I started to pray. "God, please let my test come back negative." I thought about many other who had prayed this same prayer and still gotten a positive result. And then I started to contemplate not going back for the results. It would be nice to live a few more years without the stress before it became inevitable.It is probably at this point that a lot of people decided not to go for the test or for the result.
I did go for my result but I will not tell you what it was. What is important here, my sisters all over the world, is that everyone has all these thoughts and that you are not alone in feeling that way. I strongly urge you to go for your test.When you start to feel like putting it off for one reason or the other, summon your strength and do it any way. It may save your life, one way or another. Better still, it may go a long way in breaking the chain of HIV transmission and bring us closer to a world without HIV.