I hadn’t had an HIV test in close to fourteen months.
Last year I had a live-in girlfriend for nearly a year, and we had daily sex without a condom. I couldn’t swear that she didn’t sleep with other men, but how do you ever know for sure?
In the twelve months since she moved out, my sex life has been more varied, but I still didn’t think I had anything to worry about.
But, being prudent, its been on my mind recently that I should get tested again.
The subject came up with a Thai bar girl this week, and I asked her how often she gets tested. “Monthly” was her answer.
I asked where she went and how much it costs.
She told me that she goes to the Sukhumvit Soi 11 Clinic, and that she gets a gynocological exam and STD testing for 300 baht. She cautioned me that the farang price might be higher.
I asked how long it took to go in for a test, and how long she had to wait for results. She said that no appointment was necessary, that she had never waited more than ten minutes for her exam & test, and that results came back the next day.
This all sounded great.
Soi 11 is just meters away from the Nana BTS station at the foot of the stairs. As it turns out, the Clinic is about 50 meters up the soi on the left. If you know Cheap Charlie’s Bar or Charlie Brown’s Restaurant, the clinic is in the same parking lot, at the far end. It’s pretty well marked, with two signs (blue lettering on a white background) pointing out where to turn.
I was passing by the Nana BTS station on my way to Silom on Thursday afternoon, so I hopped off the skytrain and went to the clinic arriving around 4 p.m.
I wasn’t asked to show any ID, just to write my name on a blank piece of paper. I was then taken immediately into the back where a competent nurse efficiently drew and labeled one vial of my blood. I went back to the front desk where I paid 500 baht, and was given a business card with my code number on it.
I was told that my results would be available after 6 pm the following day (Friday). I could come in person and pick up the written results, or I could call and receive the report results by phone.
I was back out the door perhaps five minutes after I’d walked in. The receptionist spoke very good English, the entire transaction was efficient and professional. I was back on the BTS train about twenty minutes after I’d hopped off of it, and was still early for my appointment in Silom.
When I finished work on Friday, I headed over to Soi 11, arriving just past 4:30. I settled in at Cheap Charlie’s and ordered a 60-baht Heineken. It’s been a while since I’d visited Cheap Charlie’s. They seem to have closed off the traffic flow through the parking lot in the evening now, and it’s not essential to stay inside the line.
A friend of mine joined me around 5 p.m.
Charlie has a sign posted saying that the price of beer is going to rise to 70 baht on the 1st of October, so maybe the place will soon be changing it’s name to “Moderately Priced Charlie’s”. Honestly, at 70-baht a bottle, there are a lot more attractive options for drinking in the area.
There is a small restaurant nearby that was setting up for dinner. My friend and I ordered a plate of pita bread with a creamy dip that was okay, but not very filling. We followed up by ordering a pair of chicken “kebabs” at 40-baht each. I was expecting doner kebabs wrapped in pita bread, but they were the “shish-kebab” variety served on skewers, with vetetables and pineapple.
Honestly, they were great, and would have been good value at double the price.
About the time we were finishing the third round of beers it was approaching six o’clock, so I sauntered over to the Clinic to get my results.
I handed over the card from yesterday, and a Thai lady retrieved my results from a manilla envelope on the desk that seemed to have the results for all of yesterday’s customers inside. She started to put it into an envelope, but the English speaking woman stepped forward, took it from her hand, covered the results to leave only my name showing and asked if that was me.
I confirmed that it was. She then uncovered the results and showed them to me, explaining that “no reaction” was a negative result, and that I am HIV-free.
I thanked her, pocketed the envelope, and went back to my table at Cheap Charlie’s where my mate and I consumed one last round of Heineken in celebration.
If you’d like to get an HIV test but your not sure where to go, I can recommend the Soi 11 Clinic. It’s convenient, efficient, inexpensive and confidential, and if you have to kill some time while you’re waiting for results there are four restaurants, a massage parlor and Cheap Charlies all in the same parking lot.