This blog post was written for Blood:Water Mission’s blog and can be found there. All photos by Barak Bruerd.
What is the probability I have AIDS? Very low. What are my risk factors? Essentially none. And yet today I once again understood the hesitancy to be tested, the fear of being tested, and the tummy flutters while waiting for your results. All because I decided to be tested for AIDS at Tumaini Clinic.
Two years ago when I was last in Marsabit town, a clinic was a dream. Two years ago I met with an AIDS support group and heard their stories. Stories of transformation from supporting each other and simple home-based care that was possible. I also heard stories of extremely sick people traveling on large lories (large trucks used for transportation of animals and supplies) for two or three days to reach an AIDS clinic. And amongst their stories, they asked for a clinic.
Blood:Water and a lot of our advocates caught the vision, and the seed money for FH to start the clinic was raised. After the ground was broken and the vision was quickly becoming reality, other organizations were able to see the vision too. And so, where there was nothing, today there is a clinic. A clinic that serves the population in general medicine and provides excellent AIDS care. Beyond the physical building, the clinic reaches into the community through mobile clinics, home based care, and support groups. This is an awesome transformation.
There is so much stigma around being tested for AIDS. During our tour of Tumaini Clinic, we came to the VCT (Voluntary Counseling and Testing) room. Flowers on the room and a smiling nurse. Part of me wanted to be tested, to be here in a way with the many who have had the courage to be tested. But then my mind immediately went to thought of, “I have done that before…Last year I had the check swab test done….This is a blood test…Really… Why?” I have no reason to be scared, and yet I backed away from the test. Which is, in my mind, all the more reason to be tested.
And so I experienced the hesitancy, the nervousness, the questions in my mind of, “What will I do if I am positive?” Then I got to read my test. Only one line. Like the other times I have been tested (this nervousness does not go away with each test), I was negative. No AIDS in my body. Sigh. It feels good. Smile.
Have you been tested for AIDS? Do you want to stand in solidarity with those who have AIDS or who are at risk and are too scared to be tested? Find your local AIDS clinic and go get tested. It will transform your mind and thought process. I promise.