Getting tested for HIV – Part I


2004

I’m home now, sipping some hot chocolate and dipping into it the occasional chocolate chip cookie and the wheels are finally turning. Which wheels? Well, the gears and pinions of bureaucracy. Long story short, I’ve finally set myself up for getting an HIV / AIDS test at my local CLSC. You see, in my defense, lately the winter in my part of Montreal has been rather cold. Not just cold, go get a sweater cold

January 19th, 2004

I’m home now, sipping some hot chocolate and dipping into it the occasional chocolate chip cookie and the wheels are finally turning. Which wheels? Well, the gears and pinions of bureaucracy. Long story short, I’ve finally set myself up for getting an HIV test at my local CLSC. You see, in my defense, lately the winter in my part of Montreal has been rather cold. Not just cold, go get a sweater cold, but breathe in and freeze one’s nasal passage and lips off cold. Alright, sure, some might say, you have a point there, at the same time that’s not all of it. Over a month ago i said I’d go get one soon. It hasn’t entirely been a brutally cold December / January either. To which I’d say ah, but i had family and various holiday responsibilities to tend to. Having an HIV test can wait.

Well, maybe. Just maybe, this can be swallowed. On the other hand, it shouldn’t be, as it’s procrastination. I can also see how in someone else’s shoes it might also be a bit of uncertainty, not really wanting to know the results. Much like a pregnancy test you don’t want the results back from while you simultaneously need to take it. I mean, people live with HIV these days don’t they? LIVE not die, inside of a year due to some unknown disease that destroyed their immune system. And if there are people living with it, what’s the worst that could happen? Living would just get a bit complicated. A few more drugs every now and then and life would keep on going?

While that’s perhaps an opening to another article, it should be noted that HIV is not something that’s worth ignoring. It’s something that will affect you and any recent or future partners. Getting an HIV test is doing yourself a favor as well as that of your partners and family.

It was thus with these important thoughts going through my head that i went out this afternoon to my local CLSC to get my HIV test. Getting there wasn’t that bad, as i left during a peak rush hour time. I got there at about 4pm and it was nice and quiet.

Several receptionists handled people entering the building within the entryway. It had a modern, yet comfortable atmosphere and several corridors going left and right from the entrance. To one side was a waiting area with ample seating arrangements and several shelves with documentation about the various services and issues of health related interest offered by the CLSC. After waiting a few moments and looking around to get my bearings, a receptionist was able to see me. I informed her i wished to have an HIV test and she asked me if i had previously been to the CLSC and had a file on their system. Well, i doubted it but when they checked it was confirmed that I’d not been there before at any time. So an appointment was set up for Wednesday this week the 21st. With the appointment made i was left to my own devices and departed.

Having come a fair distance, i thought I’d take some time to look the information over on the different shelves. I figured they must have some information about HIV getting tested for it at one’s local CLSC or something of that nature. However, after a few minutes looking the shelves over i saw nothing in English or in French. I thought to myself perhaps the shelves have been emptied, or maybe they keep that information behind a counter to be asked for rather then readily on display. After taking a minute or two to confirm my initial perusal i then went over to the same receptionist who helped me get an appointment for an HIV test i’d actually wanted to take on the same day i arrived in the CLSC. I asked her if there was any information available to me behind her desk or perhaps in back that concerned it’s self with the test, HIV and so forth, in English and / or in French. She didn’t have anything readily on hand and went into the back to check with the nurse.

While the first receptionist had left i took the opportunity to speak with another receptionist near by who asked me if i needed anything. I told her i was wondering if there was anyway to speed up my appointment for my HIV test. Apparently the nurse was rather booked and all such tests had to be made in advance. Only if a person felt they had symptoms of HIV could you get an HIV test on the spot. I also asked her how long would it take for the test to yield results and i was told 3 months. Having expected it to take about a month i was surprised and asked her about the 30 day turn around i had previously expected. This question gave her pause and she eventually admitted she wasn’t wholly sure how long it would take.

At about this time, the first receptionist i spoke with returned and informed me that unfortunately they didn’t have any information pamphlets about the tests or HIV in back, in English or in French.

Having set my appointment and as i don’t have any symptoms of HIV to really note i trudged back out into the cold blowing snow and wind wondering what on earth i’d be thinking if i had serious cause to think i might have come in contact with HIV in the past.

To be continued…

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