Desperately Looking For A Positive

, , , , | Healthy | May 16, 2019

(I have gone to the GP with recurring dizziness. The doctor is new and we have never met prior to today. I am male.)

Doctor: *feeling the underneath of my jaw* “How long have you experienced dizziness?”

Me: “About three weeks. I think it might be an inner ear infection, but I don’t have any other symptoms.”

Doctor: “I see, and does it…”

(His eyes narrow onto my chest tattoo.)

Doctor: “You have tattoos?”

Me: “Just this one.”

Doctor: “Hmm, it’s possible this could be HIV and/or AIDS.”

Me: “WHAT?!”

Doctor: “It’s a pretty serious condition which can spread from infected needles.”

Me: “I know what it is. It just surprises me that you think dizziness and a tattoo would make you jump to HIV. This is a twenty-odd-year-old tattoo by the way.”

Doctor: “Hmm… Your medical history shows you have had STI tests before, and with your lifestyle—“

Me: “My ‘lifestyle’ has nothing to do with this, if I get your meaning.” *assumes he has seen my husband listed as my next of kin in my records* “And I have only had one STI test in my life, which was done as part of a sexual health class when I was at college. Now, HIV usually begins to show signs within ten years of contracting it. My tattoo is over twenty years old, and my STI test was what, ten years ago? I do not have HIV.”

(The doctor begrudgingly agreed with my defense and checked my ears. He found nothing and arranged a set of tests for me. I went to my appointment with my husband as I was a little shaken by the experience, and the first thing they asked us was if we had ever been sexually active with each other and how long I had suspected having HIV. The doctor decided to put me down for the test regardless of what I said. Once we explained the situation, the nurses apologised, but in the end, I agreed to take the test to learn more about it. My husband took it, too, to be a good sport. While stressful, it was a jovial experience. A week later, we both went to our GP to find out our results — mostly mine. We had the same doctor as I’d had the first time. It turns out I had a potassium deficiency which was causing my blood pressure to fluctuate while I was standing. Our HIV tests came back negative, but this didn’t stop the doctor belittling us and our “lifestyle” for a good ten minutes while going over the results. We complained about him and he was gone by my next visit. I later heard he was also judgemental with the minority population, and had submitted more requests for HIV testing than the rest of the practice combined.)

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