Can you imagine…..
Worrying that you may have been exposed to the HIV virus, and then…
Getting enough courage to go to the clinic to get tested, and then….
Arriving at the clinic after traveling from afar only to wait in a long line up, and then…
Feeling anxious, scared and alone while waiting to enter the testing room and then….
Entering the hot and cramped 50 square foot counseling office, where you would meet 2 counselors and 3 counseling students waiting to possibly give you life changing news…
Your session begins with a quick assessment of how much you know about HIV,
You’re asked “What will you do if you’re positive?”….“ Who will you tell if you are positive?”… “How will this change your life?”…
All the while with a bounding heart and sweaty hands.
Counseling concludes and now it’s now time for the test.
Your blood is drawn from a finger prick and dropped onto the rapid test.
You now have to wait for 2-5 minutes to know your status….
Flashes of every poor decision you’ve ever made cross your mind
Every time that you could have been exposed comes back in full force
You begin to imagine your sore throat is the beginning of the virus taking over your system…
Is the scab on your knee taking longer to heal than it normally would?
Has your husband been acting different than usual? Has he been coming home later?…
The test is now being read…someone at the desk is filling out a form with results that determine how you will live the rest of your life…
Will it ever be safe for me to conceive a child?
Will my partner be positive too? Will my partner leave me?
Will this affect my job?
How long do I have left?
The counselor turns to you and asks if you’re ready to hear your results
They show you a blank sheet of paper and explain how to read them
R means reactive, you are now HIV positive
NR means non-reactive, you are not HIV positive
The counselor turns to their colleague and collects your sheet of paper…your results.
They hand you the folded up paper and await your reaction.
You open it up……
This is the reality for many Zambian people every day. Can you imagine it?
We know how this feels, because we did it.
– Sarah & Robyn