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Mobile HIV Testing Vans Help Avoid Awkward Talks

By Jeffrey Hartinger

Last week, I stopped into a bar in Chelsea on my way home from work. While I had originally planned to stay for a drink or two, the happy hour specials got the best of me and I was beyond buzzed when the guy I started dating a few weeks earlier texted me.

“Hey, did you want to get together?”

He arrived to the bar shortly after and kissed me on the cheek. In the corner of my eye, I noticed the bartender who usually flirts with me shoot an uneasy stare in my direction. I realized that my mixed drinks would probably be a little weaker from that moment forward.

Ah, the small sacrifices we make in the pursuit of a partner.

We had a few drinks and he invited me to stay over. I happily obliged, and as we made our way to catch a cab, we passed a mobile HIV/AIDS testing van parked alongside the curb.

While things have been going great in the few weeks of knowing each other, we decided to wait to have sex until marriage. Obviously I’m kidding. But, we have decided to take things slow. However, as safe sex and protection is something that is important to me, I suppose I’ve always felt a little uncomfortable when bringing up the subject.

Even if you’re using protection (which you should), I think it’s very important to know the status of your partner – whether in a romantic relationship, or, simply put, if they’re just your fuck buddy.

Last month, the Center for the Disease Control & Prevention reported that the number of men who had unprotected anal sex in the last year rose by nearly 20 percent from 2005 to 2011. This sharp increase, of course, makes it harder to fight the AIDS epidemic. Many young American gay men (and, well, young people in general) believe that AIDS was a problem just for those in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Saying that they’re wrong is an understatement.

Passing the van was a great conversation starter, and in a way, helped me suggest getting tested together in a natural way. Further, there are many things that are awkward in budding relationships – both gay and straight – and just because something is uncomfortable to talk about doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be discussed.


JEFFREY HARTINGER is a writer and lives in New York City. Visit his website or follow him @BuffaloGuyInNYC.

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