[Update update: ...in the morning - way too tired right now. -
Update: New questions added at bottom of post. Couldn't find exact statistics I said I'd find. Both stories introduced here will be posted together tonight.]
OK. I'm going to try to write about my own life again. Because I believe it matters, too. And that writing about it matters. I don't know how, but it does. This post is an explanatory introduction to two "pieces," to follow.
Background for presenting these two peices: Anyone who's been following this blog the last month knows about a recent personal crisis I'm recovering from that had to do, in part, with my fears in trying to deal with a long-term "friend"'s lack of urgency to get tested for HIV after having had unprotected with me. I will have had HIV 22 years as of next month to the best of my knowledge (based on symptoms, although I wasn't tested until October of 1991, when my immune system was already significantly impaired and an ex-boyfriend died). I am well-educated (and educating) about HIV transmission risks, as is my "friend". We took a conscious adult risk to be with each other unprotected, knowing that risk of vaginal transmission is very low (not zero), and even lower when viral-load (free-floating, non-dormant viral particles in blood or fluids) is low or undetectable. My medicines the last few years, regarding that, have been effective. My viral-load, with one small blip, has been undetectable for the last three years. [I will find most updated female to male transmission stats here tomorrow.] I was scared and upset that my "friend" waited what felt like an unnecessarily-interminable amount of time to be tested. My "friend" was just being practical, believing rationally that whatever happened had already happened or not, and that there was no reason to not wait for a doctor's appointment already soon scheduled, required by his work, which included an HIV-test requirement. And I didn't understand and was upset that even then, at the appointment, there was no reason to my "friend" to ask for rapid testing (HIV results within one hour), but to him, it was fine to wait the ten days it would take to get the results of the full panel of all results. We knew the result would come back on a Friday, January 4 or the next Monday, so I assumed when I didn't hear from him on Friday, that the result hadn't come in yet - rather than that he hadn't seen reason to call me about it till another day had passed. I had suggested knowing sooner, but I hadn't pushed him. I felt it was his body and his decision. There was nothing unusual maybe with his reaction to HIV-testing present-tense.
Relevance for my including these two pieces now: It's just that my reaction to the process of testing, and getting results, and disclosing those results to other people affected is not present-tense. My reactions are in 1991 and 1992. There was no "rapid testing" and a positive result did not mean what it means means now. And I haven't been through this since then to get over it. And as many years as my "friend" has known me, he has no reason to understand all that goes with that.
Writing Disclaimer: My natural way of writing is not to explain (or justify) like I have thus far in this introduction. My natural way of writing is quilt-like. Small pieces of very direct experience. Vignettes, swatches of straight-forward dialogue, email exchanges as they are, to be interpreted as they will. To speak for themselves in the context of each other. It feels like its harder to lose the truth that way, although most people like to be told something that they can then either agree or disagree on to find truth, instead of seeing what happens, when you let yourself be surrounded by all the little articles. (But maybe that 's why I'm on antipsychotics.) I've had English teachers say, "Some of your writing is really unusually good, but I can't do anything with this paper because there is no thesis at all that I could find (although you have a good one articulated in the right place that you didn't use, although you refer to it periodically), and I really tried to naturally come up through it all some way to bind it into one because you have some interesting and worthy ideas, but I just can't get it to go together." That happens in my writing most when things matter to me beyond what I can find language for. Like my posting my "friend"'s email of his good negative result, to great criticism and later support. And like my lack of ability to speak all I had to say behind what I did say (and also post) to my "friend"'s good news, too.
So now for these two torn shapes of fabric I'm introducing here, "Telling 1991," and, "Telling 1992," - they are not about behavior, or risk, or symptoms, or testing in itself, or results, or illness and death in themselves. They don't have a point. They are just about the telling - in 1991, and in 1992.
Permissions: And, KNOW NOW that the people in the stories who I have any way of reaching have been told what I am telling on my blog here now about it, and they support my telling whole-heartedly, as did my "friend" for me for this one waning month.
"Telling 1991" and "Telling 1992" to be told without delay...
Questions that would help me if you answered any of (I'm not asking for a report - just answering one would help. And it's fine with me if answers are anonymous - if they're real answers and if they are answers to the questions I am asking):
If you thought you had been exposed to HIV, but knew you were at low risk statistically (and you wouldn't be at risk of exposing someone else at all for at least a couple months), would rapid testing (results in one hour) be something you would want? Would it be important to you?
What would play into your answer, (like would you prefer some time to get used to the idea first? Would you be scared? Would you be able to just not worry knowing the risk was low, and get tested at your next scheduled doctor's appointment instead? What would play into your decision-making?)
Have you ever been HIV tested just to be sure, or as a job requirement? Was the process daunting even if you knew you were more than likely negative?
If your test came back positive (regardless of risk behavior), would you keep the result to yourself for awhile to get used to it? What people in your life would you tell first? How would you tell them, if you can imagine it? Would you lie about it to anyone who knew you got tested so they wouldn't worry? [And no - I'm not asking that because I think that has happened to me, although a long time ago I was not told - for whatever reasons (I'm not blaming) - even though several people knew I probably had it from an ex-relationship that had lasted three years with someone who knew he had AIDS at some point. I didn't find out till I was told he was dead. I didn't get the chance to tell him that I didn't blame him, or, if he needed it, that I forgave him for a bad break-up, or that I loved him, or goodbye.]