The Responsible Thing to Do
By Khafre Abif
May 13, 2011
Early in 1990 I met a young woman on the campus of the University of Pittsburgh. Soon after our second or third date I share with her that I am a Bi-Sexual man. She seems comfortable with it and with me as our relationship developed. By March of 1991, I knew I wanted to marry her.
Prior to asking for her hand in marriage I decided to get tested for HIV. Before returning to Pittsburgh I was a student at Florida A&M University and I had unprotected sex with both men and women, so in my mind this was the responsible thing to do.
The county health department was in the same area of the city as the university. I called to find out what I had to do to be tested. I was given some information which included the location and testing hours. Two days later I went to an office on a side street, not even in the building which housed the Department of Health. I don't remember being nervous.
I sat and waited for someone to acknowledge me. It took a few minutes, but felt much longer. Believe me when I say, I started to walk right back out of the building. I didn't want to be recognized by anyone coming or going.
The test was a blood draw. It didn't take long. I was told that I would have to return to the same office in two weeks to get my results. Then I was given a slip of paper with the office's contact information and a number which would be used to identify me when I called to see if the results were available. During that two-week period I played the tapes in my head of all the sex I had. Not that it was a great deal, but it was unprotected. I had one sexually transmitted disease during my time in Florida, Syphilis.
I called back to the office in about 17 days. My results were in. I told the person on the phone that I would be there the next day. When I arrived, there was no wait. It seemed that they were waiting for me to open the door. I sat. Two white men shared that I was HIV positive. At that time, there was no pre-test counseling and risk assessment. These counselors may not have ever had to give a positive diagnosis.
The only thing I heard after that, as I was making my way to the door, was: "How do you think you contracted HIV?"
Khafre K. Abif, AIDS activist, has been thriving with HIV for more than 20 years and is a father of two teenage boys. Khafre is the Founder/Executive Director of Cycle for Freedom. Khafre is one of five men in the inaugural class of The HEALTH (Health Executive Approaches to Leadership and Training in HIV) Seminar Program developed by My Brother's Keeper, Inc. He has also served as the Community Co-Chair for the New Jersey HIV Prevention Community Planning Group. As a librarian in his first career, Khafre was the first recipient of the Black Caucus of the American Library Association (BCALA)'s Dr. John C. Tyson Emerging Leader Award. Forthcoming books include Raising Kazembe and Cornbread, Fish & Collard Greens: Prayers, Poems and Affirmation for People Living with HIV/AIDS.
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