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Why Knowing Your Status Isn’t Enough

Moving beyond simply knowing your HIV status, and becoming unapologetic about knowing the status of your partner. Take the “awkwardness” out of the STD

I was tickled to death last year while watching an episode of “Being Mary Jane.” Upon her first encounter with a new sex partner, Mary Jane presented him with a plethora of over-the-counter STD tests. For the first time, I didn’t feel so “odd” about my newly-acquired habit of requesting STD tests and results from sex partners.

Thanks to the evolution of medical technology, long gone are the days of sitting in the health department for hours on end to take STD tests and then waiting 7-10 days for results. With more modern test like OraSure, it has become increasingly easy to test for HIV without ever being stuck by a needle or even entering a medical facility. More exciting to me, was the introduction of the home HIV test, Ora-Quick, which have been found in pharmacies over the past few years.

Though I have not always been the most responsible person when it came to my sexual behavior, I was always responsible when it came to knowing my status. I wanted to always be confident about what I had or didn’t have before I engaged in sexually activity with an individual. But what about my sex partner? Could I expecthim to be as responsible as me? I often mulled this question over in my head- even when I did use protection.

But once the home HIV tests became available to the general public, I knew I no longer had to worry about if my partner would take time to go and get tested prior to our encounter. Now, I could simply pull out my own STD test just as easily and quickly as I could drop my under garments and get busy.

One of the first times I had to use this method of testing came after an unfortunate evening with a new partner. Yep, I was gonna be all responsible and be on my grown-woman sh*t, when the condom failed! Yes, condoms do fail. I was nervous for days. But I had a very sexy surprise the next time he came over to my place. And though I was nervous about his results, I was unashamed when I requested he take the oral HIV test. We made a game out of it as I swabbed his mouth. And we laughed and held hands while we waited the twenty minutes for the results. (And of course after the results came back negative we celebrated “accordingly”)

Now, I’d be doing you a disservice by not telling you the ugly truth. While most people would probably comply without contest and gladly ease your mind by taking a test- there will be some among you who will not feel comfortable, for whatever reason, being tested. I can remember one guy in particular that simply would not go and get tested upon my request. He seemed annoyed by the fact that I even asked. What was more disturbing is that he didn’t seemed concerned about my status! Needless to say, our fling ended as abruptly as it had began.
I realized quickly that a man who doesn’t care about his personal health will not care about mine and therefore he is underserving of my time, love, and my body.

Since the first time I asked a man to take an HIV test, I have become very comfortable in doing so. I simply want to encourage each of you to make sure you know your status as well as your partners’  status- before engaging in unprotected sex. Your future may depend on it.

Listed below are a few creative ways to ease your partner into conversations about getting tested: HAPPY TESTING!

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1.) Come up with a plan that is tailored to your habits.
In this post I will not preach to you about abstinence or monogamy- but I will say: Be real about your habits. If you are celibate or lower risk for STDs, then maybe it isn’t beneficial for you to spend the money on over the counter test. If you have causal sex with multiple partners at once- no judgement- but be direct about wanting to know each partners’ status- even if you do use condoms. Keeping a test handy may be beneficial for you.

2.) Identify resources in your area:

I will admit, at around $45-$50 a pop, these home tests don’t run cheap. But one thing I did was found and developed a working relationship with the people at the West Alabama AIDS Outreach in my community. And when I was at the point of beginning a new relationship (not just a fling) I’d get my prospective beau to go on a “date” with me to the WAAO. Once there,we would go in separate rooms and we would take the 20-minute HIV test. If all went well, we would walk out together, excited empowered, and ready to explore each other in a more relaxed, yet still careful, way.

3.) Keep your results on hand.

No better way to get someone to do something that may be uncomfortable (though beneficial)  than to demonstrate that you yourself have already done it. I love being able to pull my most recent HIV test from my special spot and say “Here’s my status. where’s yours?!”

4.) Be upfront about your intentions and requests, however, don’t pressure anyone.

Even in 2016, talking about the heavy-hitter STDs is still awkward for some of us. And the last thing you want to do is come across as obsessed with the idea- even though you are obsessed and I say you should be. If you find that you are the one bringing this topic to the conversation, keep an open mind and read the situation. If your mate isn’t as open to the idea immediately, it isn’t the end of the world, sometimes no simply means “not right now.” Just remember that your priority is to protect yourself. And always remember that ANYDAY is a good day to test! No special occasion needed.

*FYI: remember that knowing your partner’s status isn’t a fool-proof way to not end up getting burned!!! Even if you test negative today it may take up to two months to start producing testable antibodies that will show up on an HIV test. (So hold up before you go barebacking!!!)

Knowing your partners status doesn’t mean you are exempt from contracting HIV but it does mean you can be empowered to make the best possible fact-based decision. Keep in mind that testing negative today doesn’t protect you if he cheats tomorrow. So just be mindful, and enjoy your sexual life responsibly.

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