Having never tested before, but working and living in a world where "knowing your status" is a mantra, I decided it was time to overcome my own fears about HIV/AIDS testing. Dusty Campbell (another HIV test newbie) and I headed to the university's Centre for HIV/AIDS to overcome the stigma and know our status.
After pre-counselling on the testing process and the outcomes of either a negative or positive result, I was led into the nurse's room where she pricked my finger, squeezed a tiny red drop of blood on the stick, and we waited the 5 minutes to see where the telltale blue line would land.
Sitting in the chair, across from the nurse with posters plastered to every inch of the wall, I felt sick to my stomach. Being someone who is relatively well-educated about HIV/AIDS with a low likelihood of exposure to the virus because of my circumstances and lifestyle choices, I should not have been shaking in my boots. But it was all I could do to keep the tears back and when I expressed this to the nurse, she said no matter how many times you've tested, there's always an underlying fear. I now have a much better understanding of why it's difficult to get people out for testing, especially if you have (even just that one time) exposed yourself. To an irreversible and clever virus that doesn't discriminate, that has no shame, and is spread through the most basic and intimate human interactions.
With the current UN Summit on HIV/AIDS in New York and the UN Secretary General calling for an end to AIDS by 2020, I was proud to have faced my own fears and learned my status.