I had meant to get an HIV test back in early January, but then kept putting off the doctor’s appointment ’cause he wanted me to get an echocardiogram and I didn’t have time to go get it. And with not having much sex, I wasn’t getting STDs, so wasn’t going into the doc otherwise – so it got delayed. January would have been a year since my last test, and I like to get a test at least every year, so I was almost at 15 months and I was overdue for the test. I was about to put off the appointment again (’cause I still hadn’t gotten the echo), but figured I’d go in, if for no other reason to get an HIV test.
My doctor is at Callen Lorde – which started out many years ago as a community health clinic / STD clinic at the gay and lesbian community center. When I told him I wanted an HIV test he hesitated saying he didn’t know if they had a testing person on duty. I told him I really preferred if he did the test (’cause I hate rehashing everything the counselor du jour), but he said Callen Lorde only has HIV testing counselors do HIV tests. I made some comment about how that seemed silly since doctors should be just as able to do the test. He said that while he does a pretty good job telling people they’re poz, HIV testing counselors are the best people to deliver that news. But he also said that Callen Lorde receives funding from the City for the tests. The tests are free but the deal is that the City-funded counselor does all tests.
So if any of you are in NYC and want a VERY gay friendly place to get tested, call Callen Lorde for an appointment. It won’t cost you a dime and the counseling isn’t too intrusive or hostile to barebackers. Last time I got tested I sorta cut the counseling part short by saying I’ve been getting tested for 20 years and just wanted the test. This time, knowing counseling is part of their deal with the City of New York, I put up with the counseling, but did say things like “I’m comfortable with my level of risk” to shorten the discussion and get on with the test.
One thing I should mention is that the tests at Callen Lorde are confidential, but not anonymous. If you test poz they do report that to the State of New York (as required by law). The only place to get an anonymous test that isn’t reported is at a City-run testing clinic. But you can’t make an appointment and you’ll wait for HOURS for the test.
It was sorta funny – going into the test I wasn’t nervous. But the pin prick in my finger sent a shot of pain up through my arm (may have hit a nerve or something), and then I was pretty nervous for the 15 minutes I had to wait for the results. But the test came back negative. So to those of you who always seem to think I’m poz or will be poz at my next test… You’re wrong again.
Anyway, if you read this blog regularly (or spend much time on my bb forum site – Breeding Zone) you’ll know I’m a bit indifferent to guys becoming poz. But I am a huge advocate of getting tested and knowing your status. I urge all of you to get tested every 6 to 12 months and never let it go more than 2 years. You’re MUCH more likely to die of HIV if you don’t get treated within 2 years of being infected. Early detection and timely treatment is the key to living a long time with HIV. Don’t put it off – make an appointment for a test at Callen Lorde – it’s just 15 minutes of anxiety and it won’t cost you anything. They also have a drop in clinic on Saturday mornings – no appointment necessary.
Know your status!