Friday, September 30, 2005

Such a Big Needle You Have

The spot on my arm where the needle went in still hasn't healed properly. Instead, there are three slightly elongated bruises on the inside of my arm, marking where my veins trace from the small puckered wound in the inside of my left arm. Apparently, I bruise easily.

It was time, I suppose, for me to be responsible about my life and my sexual proclivity and actually take charge for my actions. Fellow Slinging Inker Cathy was instrumental in actually realizing that I had to go down to the nearest hospital and have myself tested for any sexually-transmitted diseases. And in a scene taken straight out of Reality Bites bespren Jilly insisted on accompanying me to Medical City in Pasig last Saturday to have myself tested. Like what Cathy said, the three main sexually transmitted diseases in the Philippines are Hepatitis B, HIV, and syphilis.

I've actually been thinking about this for a very long time now, especially considering my almost nonchalant attitude towards physical intimacy. (It basically means that if I like a guy well enough, I will take it slow. Otherwise, it's an almost dangerous plunge into the dark side.) Jilly insisted that she would go with me, and not even a storm and a flood would stop her from taking me down to Medical City to have a needle stuck into my arm.

And yes, I hate needles.

The procedure itself was actually very simple. You go to Ambulatory Services at Medical City on the 2nd Floor, and they ask you to fill out a form. For the HIV test, there's an additional form that basically says that you are allowing the hospital to test you for HIV, that you are doing this voluntarily, and that in the event of a positive result, you will undergo the necessary counseling services that the hospital offers. The HIV test costs Php 870, and then the Hepa B test costs around Php 780. Syphilis actually has two variants, the cheaper one and the expensive one (that was what the girl at the counter said when we inquired about the difference between the two tests) - the RPR is the cheaper one, and costs Php 360.

I never knew private health care could be so expensive.

Anyway, after you pay at the cashier, they usher you inside the lab, where there are small rooms with the nurses on duty. I got a young-looking guy nurse with a wry smile and a sense of humor. Upon learning that it was my first time to get a blood test, he raised the syringe and said, "Well, it's my first time, too." Jilly was grinning while the nurse looked for a nice fat juicy vein inside my arm, and I had to insist that he use the left because I needed my right hand (it's my source of living). The sight of the needle was pretty paralyzing as well - I closed my eyes and counted to 30 when the nurse inserted it into my arm and sucked out what seemed to me an alarming load of blood. I think Jilly found my entire squeamish nature rather amusing. I was still pretty shaky when we left the lab.

Anyway, I got my results back Tuesday, and thankfully, I'm clean, and I have the papers to prove it. And I suppose this is another lesson learned - being sexually responsible is important and necessary (and expensive). But the peace of mind is worth it.

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