“Thank you God, for giving me a sixteenth chance.” Those words (substitute the accurate number) come out of my mouth every three months. Because every three months, when I have decided that the virus has been in my body long enough to produce enough antibodies for the test to detect, I go to the free and confidential health clinic in Chelsea on 29th street and get tested for HIV. The first time I went, I dragged my roommate with me, because I thought it would be nice to have a friend nearby while I hurled myself out a window after receiving the bad news. An extreme paranoia of HIV is incredibly overwhelming and consuming. Luckily I am not too bad – I only have minor panic attacks associated with fear of HIV, fear from logical situations – like the time I thought an e-mail infected me. I used to work for an HIV/AIDS charity, and I know a lot about the virus. I know how I can and can not contract HIV. I know the odds. Yet something inside me is convinced, I’ve got it. Sure, I may not have had sex in two years, or you know – injected myself with anything, but I can feel its presence. Sad, sick nonsense like this is what brings me to Ninth Avenue and 29th street four times a year, and if my insurance company didn’t refuse to pay for my multi-annual physical claims, I’d have a few more of those too.
I prefer to go to a clinic. It has more of a scary feeling to it, but at least I don’t have to wait five business days to find out if my achey foot is a rare first sign of a life altering illness or the result of last night’s interpretive dance. When people tell me they have never been tested for HIV, I legitimately am shocked and in awe of this angelic stress free creature and also in extreme fear and horror of their existence. I mean, regardless of my self detrimental complex about HIV, everyone should be tested. And if knowing your status isn’t enough motivation, then visiting a clinic to write about it in your blog should be. I have managed to coerce three friends to spend five hours getting tested for HIV solely because I forced them to watch as I proved them wrong about my status, and revealed the truth. Which of course is that yes, that guy I made out with 4 ½ weeks ago was a huge mistake. I feel really bad because I’m what you would consider a low-risk person when it comes STDs, especially HIV. I say this not only because I don’t get around very often and don’t use drugs, but also because due to my paralyzing fear of contraction, I have morphed into the most uniquely miserable lover. Whenever I am with someone intimately, which is about once to twice a year, this is what happens: I allow them to give me oral pleasure while I explain during the experience how I am totally interested in hooking up, but I only do oral and by I, I mean you. Its too bad because I’m pretty good in bed. As you can imagine this makes me into someone who may seem like a selfish lover. Luckily I don’t really offend more than a couple overweight grocery clerks per year.