Hurray, hurrah: No death for moi!

Erin Roof

It was the first test I was glad to fail. And I failed with flying colors.

It had been an hour and a half since I took my HIV test. The nurse told me the results would be ready in 20 minutes, but I was still waiting for the dreaded call.

“Death Watch,” I named it.

I imagined the doctor pacing around in his office trying to figure out how to tell me I was dying. Meanwhile, I was the one pacing and wondering if it was true. Images flashed in my mind of me a few years from now speaking on the high school health class circuit.

“Don’t sleep with slutty Eurotrash and make the same mistakes I made, children,” I saw myself instructing a classroom of awestruck teenagers and rambling on about my unfortunate escapades. The imaginary camera would move in for a close-up as a single tear would run down my cheek. It would be torture.

Finally, I worked up the guts to call the health clinic. The receptionist put me on hold for four minutes while she ran to the lab for my results.

It was the longest four minutes of my

life … Caskets, hideous flower arrangements and loads of poorly fitting black suits raced through my conscience.

“If I am going to die young,” I thought, “I want to die from a hip rock star death, not from AIDS.”

The receptionist clicked back on the line.

“You’re negative, Erin,” she told me.

I immediately screamed, “YYEEESS!” into the receiver. It felt like she just gave me a big present, or as if I won a medal.

Despite the myths, HIV does not abide by racial, gender or socioeconomic confines. It is easy to think of the virus as a homosexual issue or view it as the plight of a faraway continent. That’s dangerous logic. The health and future of everyone, even suburban college kids in Ohio, is at stake unless we start using our sexual smarts and get tested.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate one in 500 college students has contracted the HIV virus. The reports also show people under 25 years of age account for half of all new cases.

Fear of the stigma surrounding HIV keeps many people from seeking out information. Only getting tested is not shameful and it is not scary -unless you’re a little needle shy, like me.

“It’s just a little prick,” they promise. It’s true. I didn’t even pass out. (Well, I almost did.) Besides, the nurses even gave me a few Tootsie Rolls when it was all over.

Kent State students can receive free, anonymous HIV tests at the DeWeese Health Center, which offers them three times every semester. (Squeamish alert: This test uses a mouth swab. No needles!) Every sexually active student should take advantage of this opportunity. It is the responsible thing to do for ourselves and our partners.

So suck it up, open up and get tested!

Erin Roof is a senior magazine journalism major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Like Metric, she “fought the war, but the war won.” Contact her at [email protected].