I have never had a blood transfusion. I am not a drug user. I was not birthed or nursed by someone with HIV. I have had only one partner.
Now, I know a woman who has never had a blood transfusion, is not a drug user, was not birthed or nursed by someone with HIV, and has had only one partner.
On paper, she and I both look low-risk. The only difference between this woman and me is that her husband was unfaithful, contracted HIV, and then left her high and dry.
But this still doesn’t answer why I’m getting tested. I’ll be honest: a part of me doesn’t know. (In fact, I am anticipating a look of curiosity in the eyes of my intake nurse when he asks why I’m getting the test.) I know I don’t have HIV. Let me rephrase, I’m 99% sure I don’t have HIV. If I’ve learned anything in my life, it’s that anything is possible.
One argument for why is that if I had cancer, I’d like to know. Even if it were lung cancer and I’d been a heavy smoker all my life. Or even if it were lung cancer and I ate alfalfa sprout sandwiches and walked three miles every day, never once touching a cigarette (like my sweet grandma). Either way, I’d still like to know.
I’m really into knowing what I feel and being able to express it in a healthy way. I’m trying to teach my kids the fine art of this often elusive, ever-changing task. So if I care that much about my emotions, why not care what’s going on with my body, being able to say, yes, I have heart palpitations from time to time because of emotional stress, for instance, or no, I don’t have cancer or HIV.
And I would want everyone to know. I think every person should know what’s going on inside them. And I don’t care how they got to where they are. I wouldn’t want someone to look the other way if I got lung cancer because of my “questionable” choices along the way. I would still want compassion, and prayer, and maybe a meal. So I shouldn’t care how someone gets HIV. I feel that deep into my bones.
So I’m getting tested for HIV because I think I should. Because I think every high-risk person should. Because I think every low-risk person should. Because I think you should. And I can’t think you should do something that I’m not willing to do myself.
Go here to find out where you can get tested locally: http://www.hivtest.org/.