Doctor: Good afternoon, Joy! How are you feeling today?
Joy: I'm feeling good, doc! Doing my best to keep healthy and hydrated.
Doctor: Well you're doing a great job keeping healthy. You're still taking your medicine everyday as discussed?
Joy: Yes, every day!
Doctor: I'm glad to hear it. Your viral load is low, and you're in the undetectable range. As we've discussed, keeping the load undetectable while taking your medicine as prescribed means you can't transmit HIV.
Joy: I remember "U=U"! Undetectable equals untransmittable!
Doctor: Did you want to get tested for any other sexually transmitted infections today while you're here? I can have one of the nurses get a full panel test ready for you.
Joy: A full panel test?
Doctor: Basically, we test you in a couple different ways to ensure we test for all STIs. We'll do a blood draw, which tests for syphilis, HIV, and Hepatitis C.
We'll also do some swabs of the places where you're having sex, for example your anus, vagina, or throat, and we could do urinalysis, where we sample your urine. These tests are good for identifying HPV, chlamydia and gonorrhea infection.
You interested in that?
Joy: Do I have to? Sounds like a lot.
Doctor: You definitely don't have to, but I do recommend it. People having sex should get tested every three or six months just to ensure they know if they have an STI. This is especially important depending on how often you change partners, or if a partner discloses to you that they might have an STI. The most common symptom is no symptom!
And if you're worried about testing positive for some of the STIs, it helps to know that the viral infections - Hepatitis and Herpes - can be managed just like we're managing your HIV status. Gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis can all be cured.
Doctor: One thing I want you to know - when we choose to do swab tests, you'll have to tell me more about what type of sex you're having.
For example, if you're only having oral sex, we'd only swab your throat, but if you're having anal or vaginal sex, we'd swab there. The swab can be a bit uncomfortable, and you'll have to tell me a bit more about what genitals you have.
Does that sound ok?
Joy: I appreciate the heads up, doc. Let's do it, and I'll let you know if I'm uncomfortable.