There are condoms in bowls absolutely everywhere. It is the first sign that everything is not quite according to standard practice.
My second sign is the gay poster of two men kissing and a coffee machine proclaiming a gay-positive message. And I’m like…what’s the meaning of this… it’s ok to … be gay?
Then I notice that every single piece of paper on the boards, in the stands and lying on the tables have messages such as: “How to live with HIV,” “HIV: what it means today,” “Life, HIV and Death” and “join the HIV support group.” I look back at the condom bowls: one, two … I count seven bowls in an area no bigger than 40 sq feet. In an instance, it dawns on me where I actually am:
The H… I… V… clinic …
And at the same time, I’m like: what am I doing here?!
But I know what I am doing there. I had been called there to get that final rabies shot. After getting lost, multiple times mind you, in the hospital, I had asked close to everyone I encountered on how to find this place. I think it is safe to say that I have ruined any chances of rendezvous-ing a cute nurse or a doctor as I had been loudly broadcasting that I am looking for the HIV clinic masked under a slightly less conspicuous name.
Sitting there in a waiting room I am a bit ashamed of how uncomfortable I feel in the environment. I know HIV doesn’t spread like the flu, not like covid nor like bad fashion. And that today it is possible to live an almost normal life with HIV. Yet, I take extra care not to touch more things than what I absolutely need. I wash my hands twice, with a devotion bordering to religion. But then a cute little butt walks by and I can’t help but give it a bit of a look-over. It’s a nice butt, it sits on an even nicer man. And simultaneously it hits me that of all the places NOT to get my freak-on, this is probably the most NOT place of all.
My vaccination injection takes less than 30 seconds and I am out of the door almost before I arrived. Running towards a false sense of security that has nothing to do with escaping illness, but everything to do with avoiding a reputation. It makes me feel just as ashamed.