Confronting a shadow.

A friend whom I sometimes sleep with admitted to me that he was found to be reactive in a recent HIV test. We’ve been hanging out (and occasionally sleeping with) each other for several months now. Aside from being worried about himself, my friend was also worried about me, apologizing several times after he broke the news. He said he wouldn’t be able to forgive himself if I was infected because of him.

I appreciated my friend’s concern and told him he shouldn’t be apologizing to me. I haven’t been tested in a while, the last was way before I met him. What I didn’t tell him that time was how I was more worried that it might have been me who infected him. While I have been practicing safer sex for several years now, that was not always the case. One never knows if some nasty surprise from one’s past will suddenly make an appearance now.

It’s no secret among many of my friends that I have had multiple sexual partners. Hell, a lot of those sexual partners eventually became my friends. I was not looking forward to breaking bad news to them and passing the worry that they might have been exposed to HIV risk because of me, however slight the possibility was. It wasn’t really rational, but my mind was beginning to panic.

HIV test

It was early in the morning when I went to the testing center. I decided to go alone, preferring to have a moment alone should I turn out to be reactive. The counselor pleasantly did the usual routine interview, asking about my personal history.

“…and how many men have you slept with?” he asked at one point.

“Oh, wow.” I forgot one gets asked this question. After a moment’s though, I gave a (probably conservative) estimate: “Fifty?”

“That’s still not a lot,” he chided.

After my blood was extracted, I went to the waiting area, took out a book, and pretended to read calmly while waiting for the result. When the counselor called me back, he asked how the waiting was and commented that I looked pretty confident about what the result would be. I simply smiled back and shrugged noncommittally. While I seemed to be nonchalant with the whole thing, in my head I was anything but.

The result came back as non-reactive.

That took a huge weight off my mind. I am not a statistic. I haven’t been putting other people at risk. Most importantly, I can assure my friend that he has nothing to worry about me.

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