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Nothing to be embarrassed about!

HIV test may not be as bad as one would imagine, if you get a sensitive counsellor, reports Jaya Shroff.

delhi Updated: Dec 01, 2007 01:14 IST
Jaya Shroff

As I headed for the Voluntary Testing and Counselling Centre at Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital on Friday to get myself tested for HIV and receive counselling — my assignment for the day — I wondered what kind of experience awaited me. Would it be uncomfortable? Would the people at the centre be sensitive?

Thinking about these thoughts, I found myself sitting across a sympathetic counsellor called Rashmi. She got straight to the point. “When was the last contact,” she asked. “Contact,” I asked, puzzled. “Are you married? I mean, when did you last have sex,” she elaborated. I kept quiet. I have to admit, I wasn’t exactly enjoying the conversation.

Sensing my discomfort, she changed track. “Any history of blood transfusion?”

I shook my head. “When did you last take an injection?” I thought hard, but I couldn’t recall when.

Leaning a little closer, she said: “Don’t be shy. You can tell me. Your name and identity will be restricted to a number I give you. But you have to tell me if you have had unsafe sex.”

I realised I had to think of a reason for taking the test. So I answered: “Last week, but with protection.”

“Have you noticed a rash or swelling? Problems urinating? Pain in the abdomen or dizziness?” “No, no, no,” I said.

“Did it slip or burst? Some accident?” she went on. “You mean the condom,” I asked, trying to keep a straight face. “I have to know why you think you have got the infection. I assure you this conversation will not be repeated,” she said.

“Generally, I just wanted to get tested,” I replied.

As I filled up a form, she said, “This will go into a locker.” She then handed me a few leaflets, remarking, “You are the fifth person to come for counselling today.”

The test done, I was told the result would be ready in three days. As I got ready to leave, Rashmi asked me to get tested again after three months.

I was relieved. The experience had not been as bad as I had imagined it would be.