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AIDS-testing

Whether you like to talk about it or not, HIV/AIDS is real and it’s in our community. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, African-Americans in the United States make up 44% of new HIV infections. This has got to stop!
In honor of Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, I take you inside the doctor’s office with me as I await my results. As a young, sexually active woman, I make it my business to get tested and know my status. Waiting for the results is the hardest part. After you’ve built up the courage to get tested, it’s the waiting that breaks down any confidence you might’ve had.

Every August, I get checked out. I don’t know why I picked August, but that’s when I make my appointment. Getting tested isn’t on my top ten list of “Rad Things To Do,” but it gets done.

As I walked into the testing room, Jeffrey, the health educator, took a black pen from a coffee mug storing a bevy of black pens, and clicked the top of it.

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“Okay Shenequa,” he said in his sweet papi accent. “I need you to answer a few questions.”

He opened his manila envelope filled with paperwork and then the prying into my sexual life began.

“What’s your sexual orientation?” he asked.

“Heterosexual.” I replied.

“When you have sex, do you use protection?”

“Yes.”

“What kind of sex do you engage in? Vaginal? Oral?”

“Vaginal and Oral.” I answered.

“Do you have anal sex?”

“No.”

Although honest with all of you about my sex life (or the lack there of, as of late) in this cold and informal setting, I was, almost embarrassed. The cloudy, gray day seemed to echo the sentiments of the tone inside the office.

As I answered his questions, Jeffrey checked certain boxes and circled others. I tried to divert my attention, looking out the window and gazing at people while on their way to work. I looked at everything and everyone except Jeffrey.

“Okay Shenequa,” he said clicking his pen. Now, we’re ready for the H.I.V. test.”

I took a rapid H.I.V. test using the OraQuick test by OraSure Technology. Unlike drawing blood, patients use the mouth swab to swab their upper and lower gums. After the swab, patients receive their results in 20 minutes.

According to a recent New York Times article, The Food and Drug Administration approved The OraQuick test for at-home-usage. Similar to home-pregnancy tests, patients now can learn their status in the privacy of their own homes, but for about $60. The product will be sold in drugs stores such as Duane Reade by the end of the year, Jeffrey said.

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