So confession time, I’ve never gone for a HIV test before since starting my sexual journey. Part of it was ignorance and part of it was sheer “Well it’ll never happen to me”. A few months ago, a friend reached out to me and asked if I’ll accompany her to get tested for HIV through Action For Aids. She was nervous as she had an unprotected encounter and read about their Love And Sexual Health initiative aimed at women. On Wed nights, they had Ladies Night where you could get free and anonymous HIV testing. I said “Oooo… sure! Why don’t I get tested too? Could be interesting to write about…”
We’d waited a couple of months to ensure we had the right window testing period (the time between exposure to the infection and the ability to detect if you have been infected). Then all we did was sign up for a slot on the @afa.singapore website, then showed up at the DSC Clinic, 31 Kelantan Road. The DSC is very discreet and you’ll be greeted by a really friendly and kind volunteer. Everything is anonymous (you can leave a fake name during online registration too) and once you have your TraceToken and temperature checked, you’re ushered inside.
At the reception, you’ll be asked to show your barcode from the pre-registration form online. Then asked when your last exposure (a.k.a. unprotected sex) was to gauge the type of test you will take. (Mine was a Gen-3 test) I also opted to get tested for Syphilis since it’ll be the same blood sample and oral Chlamydia and Gonorrhoea since… why not? The total payment for all 4 tests I had was an affordable $62! Please remember to bring cash as they don’t accept other forms of payment. (But there’s an ATM in the hawker center across the road…). Then once you’ve made payment, you’re issued the actual test strips and a receipt that also serves as your ID number that they’ll call you for. As it was ladies night, I was given priority and quickly had my number called by a friendly volunteer called Jean.
Jean brought me in and explained the procedure. She would just prick the tip of my finger, swipe some blood on the test strips and I’ll just have to wait 10-15 minutes for the results. It was smooth, painless and fast. She’d explained that if it was positive, there will be two lines. If negative, it’s just one. Kinda like a pregnancy test!
Once that was done, I went to be called into a separate room for my oral swab for the Chlamydia/Gonorrhoea tests. 5 minutes later, I was ushered in by a friendly male volunteer who explained the difference about oral and vaginal Chlamydia/Gonorrhoea. I admitted that I didn’t know that you can get it from oral sex and that you might not show symptoms! He advised that if I wanted to get tested for vaginal Chlamydia/Gonorrhoea, it would have to be done at a regular clinic with a urine sample instead. Then I just opened my mouth wide while he used a cotton swab, took some saliva from the back of my molars and voila, it was done! Unfortunately, processing the results take 2 weeks so I’d just to leave my name and number so they can give me a call with the news. Again, you can leave a fake name if you prefer…
Next thing you know, Jean came out to find me with the test results and oddly, my heart did start pumping and wondering “Oh shit, what if it’s positive?”. We went back to the same room, she sat me down and showed me the strips – good news, I’m negative! We had a little chat about how the whole process was really easy and how we wished more women would know about it. Even if you feel scared and intimidated, you can actually bring a friend for moral support and they have counsellors who will guide you through emotionally and what’s next if you test positive for HIV.
Overall it was such a great experience with volunteers who weren’t just knowledgeable but kind, caring and calming. The next Ladies Night is tomorrow so I suggest grabbing your girlfriends, get tested, and stay safe and sexy! If you have any questions about the experience, feel free to drop it in the comments.
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