Sunday, January 28, 2007

Misunderstanding around HIV testing in SA

A comment appearing on Champagne Heathen deserves a quick post. Ties quite nicely into the aritcles we've been writing about HIV ignorance - some malicious, some not.

At least, with this reader, she's bothering to ask, and not just assume. Cough.

I really do start off every year having an HIV test as well as a full STI test. I don't know why, it's just a thing I do. I have to tell you it really peeved me off this year that I couldnt just walk into the lab, ask for the test, have it, go home and wait for the results.

I had to get a consultation, so that the doctor could write up the bloodwork request. He of course wanted to know when this happened - that was his actual question to me. Firstly "it" didnt ever happen and secondly if "it" did why would "it" be any of his business?

What "it" was we can only assume... a rape incident I dunno... The point is it shouldn't be such a hassle for something like this, especially in this country. Sorry god I really did have a rant there. Seems I'm still quite mad about this.

Dear Anonymous Commentor. Thank you for asking - people often get confused about a Doctor's intention. More so when it comes to something as private as HIV testing.

The simple answer, is that whoever you are, we have to consider the potential of pre and post test counselling. A Doctor, first and foremost MUST determine the reason for a patient wanting test

For instance, if there was a little drunken hubba hubba unprotected mistake. Well, we've got window periods, contraception patterns etc. to worry about. If it is rape, as you probably wrongly assumed... there's both window period and proper rape counselling. Even if a patient is just paranoid - there could be other reasons. We wouldn't be doing our job if we didn't ask. The question is never intended to offend.

Now, let's consider the horrible side. WHAT if it's positive? That's the reason Doctor's make you come in for an appointment instead of telling you over the phone. This virus, she's a seeeriiuss thing. No-one wants to receive a life-changing diagnosis over the phone.

"It " simply means unprotected sex or the reason for the test, not necessarily "rape" . And "it" IS his business - we can't practice blind. And remember, as clinical as doctor's seem to be getting - we still care about the whole patient... Emotional wellbeing is as important as your health when confronting the medical decisions / risks of everyday life.


Champagne Heathen said...

Thanks very much my doctors!

And it is always wonderful to hear that you docs are looking after me holistically!!

SA Doc said...

Better hole than half eh?