29 January 2004

Getting tested for HIV - Part 2

I took a seat and waited for a while, eventually to be seen to by a nurse, perhaps five minutes past the precise time of my set appointment. I was led into a winding passage of several halls littered with office doors in a comfortable yet formal, modern chic.

Équipe -Pose ta question!-

Wednesday January 21st

The weather was a bit warmer than the last time i went out, or perhaps that was because i went out around noon this time. In any event i got into the CLSC with perhaps 5 minutes to spare. The waiting area sported several people, a couple, and a few other people who seemed to be unrelated. The waiting line for the receptionist i was supposed to speak to was pretty short and soon i made her aware that i was in for my test. It was suggested i take a seat and then the nurse would get to me in a couple minutes.

Having come before just a few days ago and noted no HIV related information on the various shelves full of pamphlets i took some free moments to carefully check the shelves in the waiting area again. Well, in taking a second look, i did note a lone information packet. It discussed the danger of needles, as a possible source of HIV, and that one’s children ought to be taught the danger of finding needles in their neighborhoods or play areas. However, no other information about sexuality, or HIV/AIDS was provided and available.

I took a seat and waited for a while, eventually to be seen to by a nurse, perhaps five minutes past the precise time of my set appointment. I was led into a winding passage of several halls littered with office doors in a comfortable yet formal, modern chic. Along the way i did note several shelving units with various forms of educational material. It should be noted that these shelving units were kept in back in an area full of various offices and listed as for access to authorized persons only. In other words: nurses, receptionists and their clients.

When i arrived in the nurses office, it felt warm and inviting, the lighting was comfortable as much as was the seating. I felt at home and relatively at peace. The nurse asked me why i was there and asked how she could help me. The option remained to be very straightforward about my interest in getting an HIV test, but i decided to additionally mention that i was writing an article about HIV and the process of getting tested.

I asked her if she had any information about HIV, risk activities for homosexual relationships as well as information about the test. Well, in her office she had some varied information in a folder as well as more in a cabinet unit where in supplies were limited to on site use only due to low availability. After looking around her office for me i was then brought outside into the hall, to a shelving unit amidst the various offices and hallways of the CLCS’s rear area, where to my surprise was a whole host of information about sexuality, homosexuality and related issues were covered. Interestingly there was even information for questioning females as well as males. This information was available both in English and French, though it should probably be noted that the English information was limited.

I spoke to the nurse about my shock to see this shelving unit in back, when several days previous one receptionist had said there was nothing in back with this type of information, in French, or English. I asked if this was a new installation in the past couple days, yet was informed that it had been within the CLSC for several months. Taken aback, i mentioned the lack of sexually related or HIV information within the front waiting area. It was noted then that the CLSC had a general policy of keeping this sort of information away from children who might come across it in the waiting area. So with this in mind, i then retold my story from when i last came to the CLSC several days ago where i tried to acquire any available information in English or French about HIV. I suppose it’s worth noting, (particularly as i have known people who still get carded because they are short, and appear to be youthful in appearance) that when i first asked for information about the HIV test that the receptionist knew i was an adult on account of my birth date in filling out my record in the CLSC database.

The nurse who was attending me wasn’t sure what to make of my past experience, yet was more than willing to help me find a wealth of related information on the shelving unit. Then explaining that several months ago they had moved into new offices, took me to another part of the CLSC and opened a store room that was filled to the rafters with various informational packets regarding sexually transmitted infections, healthy ways to practice sex, HIV educational material and more.

Along the way, the helpful nurse who was attending diligently to my varied questions also mentioned that the CLSC was rather bereft of funding, particularly it was noted that she was perhaps the only nurse who had a computer in her office. However, she didn’t have Internet access and only in one office within the CLSC did one person have Internet access at all. She explained that this made a lot of things difficult. Especially was it difficult when she, or other nurses within the CLSC went to English schools to provide decent bilingual HIV education. In the end it was mentioned that the only remedy was using outside sources like family for Internet access to HIV educational material. I can’t help but say i was shocked to hear about educators unable to have Internet access within the workplace.

By this point I’d accrued quite a collection of informational pamphlets and it was time to get on with the actual test. To have the test, i was taken into a nice small, clinically clean room, well filled with various accouterments to tend to the health concerns of male and female clients. The nurse asked me if i was there for purely the HIV test, or the whole battery of standard tests for STI’s as well? While i was certainly there for the HIV test, i was slightly apprehensive of taking the others for several reasons, particularly some rather unsavory tales i’d heard of less than comfortable procedures involved. Well, apparently times have changed, and thanks to the progress of medical science, procedures that in the past were rather, shall we say, “invasive” have been reduced to a simple painless urine sample taken in a cup.

With my peace of mind eased, i signed myself up for the whole battery of tests. The HIV test as well as several others that involved the need for blood were all taken today. The needle went in easily and the blood letting took perhaps no more than a couple minutes for all 3 vials to be filled. After the test was complete i was given a small little square Band aid and allowed to go after the nurse helped me get a few photocopies of more information.

I was informed that to get my results regarding the HIV test, I’d have to make an appointment in 30 days, furthermore at that time i could then continue and get a few more tests done unrelated to HIV but for the rest of my thorough STI work-over. I thanked the kind nurse for the help she’d provided me and then set out again to catch the bus on my way to go shopping before getting myself home.