My HIV test results came back negative today. Negative can be such a positive word.
Gay men experience some things in life with more regularity than other people do. For example, we probably go to more Margaret Cho performances and Sound of Music sing-a-longs. That is why some of us crave community with other gay men. We wish to share our common bonds and talk about the things that "nobody else understands".
Most intelligent people realize that HIV is not just a concern for gay men. On the other hand, statistics show most people who contract the disease do so through male-to-male sexual contact. So, when you're a man who sleeps with other men, it's important to get tested regularly. Even if you hate it. Even if it scares you and stresses you out. Even if you are "pretty sure" you've only engaged in safe sex.
I called the results line and gave them my confidential patient number. My heart pounded as I sat there imagining how my life would change if a voice came on the line and said that my results were positive. Or if they said I had to come in for my results which, for me anyway, would mean the news was so scary they wanted to make sure I was locked in a private room so they could help me through the ordeal.
For the past week, I've tried not to think about getting my results today. And I almost completely forgot to call. But I called the results line and gave them my number, and now I was sitting at my desk waiting to hear...whatever. I stopped breathing while I waited for the results. And, after two hours - okay, 30 seconds - but it felt like two hours, I was told that my results were negative.
I exhaled deeply and said, "thank you." I hung up the phone and closed my eyes and tried not to cry. I was relieved, but I also thought about all the men who call the results line and hear bad news. I thought about friends and past boyfriends who are HIV+, and my heart went out to them. They are strong people, and they have conquered much and survived more adversity than many of us. I only personally knew one friend who died of AIDS, and that was over a decade ago. I thought of him today too. Kerry, I hope you are at peace, and I send you much love.
Most days I wish my boyfriend would call me more often, and I wish I could lose weight, and I wish I made more money. Today, I'm just happy with things the way they are. I'm feeling really positive about being negative.