world aids day: my results are in

i went over to the city of berkeley clinic to get tested for the HIV antibody tonight, as something of an observance of world aids day. i haven’t been in a public clinic in many years, and this one deals specifically in family planning and sexual health. wednesday nights from 6 to 8, its business is exclusively limited to testing for HIV.
when i have gotten tested in the past, i have always done it as part of my general physical. this was a rather different experience from the outset. the woman at the counter asked me to choose between several different testing options. the oral test results would not be available for a week. it didn’t take me long to decide that i would have the fingerstick and wait around for twenty minutes.
there was a quiet tension in the waiting room that i have not experienced before. this was not a wait for the orthodontist. there was only one couple. the rest of the people were there because something they had done was causing them to worry. as one guy emerged from getting his results, a ripple of nervous laughter passed through the room as he grinned and gave the thumbs up sign.
a television news crew from a spanish language station came into the clinic asking the girl at the desk for permission to interview us. she responded that it was an anonymous testing facility, and that therefore they could not.
i was easily the most relaxed person in the room, but i have to admit that when i went into the lab to have the fingerstick, and then sat around the corner waiting for the blood to react with the test solution, i became acutely aware of movements in and out of the hallway, and when the general banter and laughter in the lab hit a lull, i found myself leaning forward in my chair, listening very closely for nuances in that conversational pause.
i explained to the counselor my reason for being there. world aids day, three years without a test, and although i am straight, not an intravenous drug user, and generally practice safe sex…ah well there it is then, the word “generally”.
she excused herself, walked to the lab and returned with the piece of paper i had been expecting. i had expected it, but at the same time, i walked out grinning and flashing the thumbs up.
hiv antibody test






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