Getting an HIV test in Sukhumvit

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.

46 thoughts on “Getting an HIV test in Sukhumvit”

  1. Do they test for other minor nasties (Gonnhorea/Syphillis/HPV/Herpes) in addition to HIV?

    Also, did she use a sterile needle to draw your blood? (I presume yes, but TIT)

  2. @croc: They get Nana Pig Dog to lick each needle before insertion.

    Kills all known germs.

  3. several years ago i had a test their for 5 STDs plus HIV. Can’t remember which std’s they were but i don’t have any of them. Was expensive i recall about BT2000 i think…

  4. MSB – that is correct. I think it is 2500 but I think it is cheaper than the hospitals for the similar lab work.

  5. I had my first AIDS test before the disease was discovered, just to be on the safe side, and I see no reason to have it again.

  6. I’ve had three HIV tests done. 1 was at Bum the other 2 at BNH. What bothers me about the hospitals they act you have it from the moment you ask to have the test done. Then they treat you like some sort of leper, the results of the test are sealed as if the world will end just as soon as you break the seal. Of course every nurse in the hospital would know if you had it, long before the word got to you. Soi 11 sounds like the right place to go.

  7. I recommend you all get checked out. That AIDS aint nice. I was in bed for nearly 2 weeks shaking that off.

    Couple of ibuprofen got rid of it in the end. But then, I’m a double hard bastard. :mrgreen:

  8. Without wishing really to spoil the tone of this post so far, one thing that is pretty routine as part of HIV testing in many other settings and absent from this string is any mention of how these clinics might deal with someone who is unlucky to actually get a positive result. In my experience (and yes, I do have some), almost everyone who has a test goes ‘just to be on the safe side’, but in practice they almost never seriously think through what they might do and how they might react in the admittedly rare event that the result is the last thing they want to hear. I imagine some of you probably find the idea of pre-test counselling a bit ‘touchy feely’ and admittedly it can be a cringeworthy affair if you get some patronising twat half your age lecturing you. But at it’s best it’s just simple practical advice such as to make sure you definitely use a condom or abstain until you get your result (how would you feel if you shagged someone without the next day and the result came back +ve?) and to make sure you have a good friend around who you know you can call at the time the result comes back. My guess is that these places would just tell you what to do if the result is a bad one – maybe just give the address of another hospital / clinic or a phone number?

  9. @ K1ndofblue,

    I doubt a 300-500 baht clinic on the street can afford to do lenthy consultations at that price.

    If you go to Bangkok Private Hospital you spend about 3000 baht for a check-up with extensive blood work and if you include HIV and STD checks they give you a little one on one with a doctor and some flyers with info on how the test works, what it’s limitation are, that there may be false positives that require further testing, etc.

    For a first timer or someone who tested positive in the 500 baht clinic, I would recommend spending the money and going to one of the International private hospitals.

    For on-going routine checks, the 500 baht place should suffice.

  10. @ old Farang

    Completely agree, good idean to get the spiel once and then it’s probably not necessary next time.

  11. i don’t know about the more expensive places being any more prepared to dispense advice… got an HIV test done at bumrangrad two years ago as part of an overall health package. crazy nurses actually handed me my file when i got there early to see the doctor. had been playing it a bit fast and loose for a while and am a natural worrier anyway so i was up half the night drinking the stress away. opened up the file and there were my results. HIV-, thankfully, but the wording on it was confusing so i didn’t know what to think.

    the day before the doc who had examined me said something along the lines of “nothing to be worried about, son, i’m sure you’re fine.” how the hell would he know? i “looked” okay??? anyhow, had i been +, i might have lost it, just finding out on my lonesome in a hospital hallway.

  12. @ killerbees

    I heard similar stories of poor value for money at Bumrangrad.

    As far as Bangkok Private goes, I can vouch for them.

    They have people there fluent in English, Arabic, German and Japenese and they are very big on consultation. They make a big deal out of confidentiality in regards to HIV tests. They handed me the flyers and offered me an envelope so that nosy people in the waiting room (which is like a hotel lobby with flat screen TVs and all) would not make bad assumptions about me.

    (No, I do not work for them.)

  13. @Elk – My youngsters are in fine health. They drink only the finest chinese baby formula

    I’ve got a funny story about when I went to Bumunwhatsitcalled on soi 3 when I had ghonneria, but i’ll save that for another day – All in a jab in the arse and 6 zithromax, ran me for the thick end of 5000baht. Vaseline not included

  14. Suk Psycho: 4 bottles kill me? That’s not even a pre-dinner drink. I went home immediately after and spent the night watching TV — jing jing.

    Crocodile exp: Yes, they had signage up for these tests. I opted only for the HIV in this instance, though last year I got a full STD screen. I will rely on the info in comments as to pricing, as no pricing info was posted.

    Pants Elk: your logic, as always, is infallible.

    K1ndofblue: My test 14 months ago was done at BNH hospital. They didn’t seem to handle it in any special way, but of course all my tests were negative. The info was at least given to me by a doctor at a desk in a private office.

    I described the paper handling at this place in order to let people draw some conclusions (for example, that you can call for results, that the first nurse was going to give the info to me without explaining the meaning or even checking my identity, that the results were stored ‘communally’ in a manila folder at the front desk and that my results were delivered to me at the receptions desk). This is a far cry from the handling I received at BNH, but also at a much cheaper price.

    killerbees: thanks

    Probably the best handling I ever got for an AIDS test was at a free clinic in downtown Sydney, Australia. I had a pre-testing interview, counseling about my sexual habits (don’t have sex with Thai hookers) as well as some statistics on transmission, and an info pamphlet about STDs.

    I came back with a clear result, but I am confident that had it been otherwise, there would have been counselors on hand to deal with me immediately.

    I wouldn’t expect the same kind of treatment at many places in Bangkok, and certainly not at this small and inexpensive clinic on Soi 11.

    I recommend it for the hardened veteran of Bangkok who is focused on a quick, cheap and easy STD test in a convenient location.

  15. Now – please don’t go ballistic on me!
    But what if you were to test pos? My understanding is that with the modern drug cocktails your life expectancy would not change. Apparently, people (in the West) are not dying from AIDS anymore – only people who have had it for a long time. The big problem is the possible side effects of the drugs which might affect the quaility of life. And it might put a damper on promiscuity. Am I completely in denial?

  16. @ Tim Oakland,

    Well it depends on your age, where you live and how rich you are.

    The crushing psychological impact of knowing that you are HIV+ aside, the drugs are not cheap, and not healthy either.

    Some countries require you to register your status.

    Many countries will not give you residence permits or long term visa if you are HIV+, so there goes your mobility.

    Also your sex life will suffer. Many countries make it illegal to conceal your HIV+ status to people you are about to have sex with. I would say that makes casual encounters next to impossible, unless you take the legal and moral risk of concealing your status.

    If you are in a “real”, i.e. not P4P relationship and she doesn’t run away, it will still mean you need to use a condom every time, in your own house, with your own wife.

    As someone who enjoys a good sex life, I think with HIV the options in my order of preference are

    1) Prevention
    2) Suicide
    3) Drugs for life

  17. @ John Brown

    I used to manage an escort agency in a Western country around the time HIV had only been out for a few years, hence I have read my share of propaganda on the subject matter.

  18. Nice write-up WW. Thanks for sharing. I have seen that clinic many times and wondered about the quality of service. I frequent the “Pickled Liver” and occasionally hit up Cheap Charlies hence my familiarity with the area. As for Cheap Charlies and the 10 baht increase, yeah, there are other places to go for that price, but I think most go to Cheap Charlies for the atmosphere, it’s a fucking ghetto shack, and some people really like that from time to time. Me personally, I’ll still hit up Cheap Charlies now and then just because it’s a bar I have been going to for year and it’s a nice chill place. Plus I can use the shitter at the Pickled Liver without anyone giving me guff at the pickled liver as I spend quite a bit there drinking Killkinny.

  19. It’s worth getting checked for Hepatitis too if you go for HIV. It’s endemic in certain areas of Thailand (and indeed much of Asia).

  20. CO: Good advice. Having had hepatitis as a teenager, I have the antibodies in my blood so I am a low risk guy for that. For people who are higher risk, it’s worthwhile to put in the battery of STD testing… I can say from experience that other than TWO kidney stones in my life, Hepatitis was the worst illness I ever suffered from. I dropped 10 or 15 pounds in about 2 weeks and was skinny as a rake. That was the last time I fit in size 33 pants. Now I wear 46!

  21. @ Werewolf,

    I believe you can get Hep B and C from sexual intercourse.

    You must have had Hep A or B in your youth, which can be vaccinated against anyways.

    There’s no vaccine for Hep C, and it is not curable, AFAIK, and it can be transmitted in a P4P scenario pretty much the same way as HIV so it’s still worth testing if

    1) you are really immune to Hep B (might as well test for A as well, but this isn’t a P4P issue) Get booster shots if antibodies are low.

    2) You have Hep C.

  22. Whatever happened to the non-blood test kits for HIV testing? They had a swab that you rubbed around in your mouth and then the lab analyzed it. They even had a version that showed the result after a few hours without being sent to the lab (it was similar to the home pregnancy stick that shows the result). Were those tests proven inaccurate as compared to the blood tests?

  23. @Testing: Wasn’t some dodgy farang trying to sell this business as a going concern some time back? Clearly, it’s charlatanical and pure fakery.

  24. I just went and got tested for HIV at the Soi 11 clinic. I’m a little concerned as to whether or not they used a new needle or not as another poster mentioned. I really wish I had asked but it’s too late now. I did notice the person drawing my blood was not wearing any gloves. I’m a little pissed I went to that back alley shit hole but I can only hope they know better than to recycle needles. However I’ll go tomorrow and get my results. Looks like I’ll need to test again in 3 months to see if that 500 Baht set up gave it to me from a dirty needle.

  25. soi 11 – no offense. been going there for years. i would not call them a back alley joint nor could I ever imagine them recycling needles as they are a clinic with real doctors.

  26. Sorry I should not have lambasted them. I’ve been going through an HIV scare the past three months. I am finally at the 3 month point and I go to get tested and the irony would be incredible if I caught HIV while getting tested. I was just disconcerted by the lady not wearing any gloves. I hope to God she used a clean needle.

  27. I think Old Farang summarised the ‘impact’ of getting a positive result really well. I think the other concerns people sometimes have are where they got and and who they may have infected. If they are in a steady relationship, there’s also the issue of how you tell your regular partner (and the implications if they think you are monogomous). In terms of the crushing psychological impact – and also to underscore why I brought this issue into the thread, I’ve also had to give out +ve HIV results and it’s probably one of the worst things I’ve ever been tasked with. And on one morning I even had to tell two people they were +ve. But actually, their reactions couldn’t have been much more different. Both were gay and the first bloke was in his early fifties, urbane, sophisticated and pretty clued up. He pretty much expected the result, so wasn’t especially surprised. He had been conselled many times, was certainly aware of the issues and had a good support network. And whilst he clearly can’t have been happy, the only way I can put it was that he was very zen about the whole thing and kind’ve embraced it – said he didn’t regret anything he’d ever done and wouldn’t have changed his life. In any way. The second guy was 22, had recently come out and seemingly was having a wild time. He came along initially with gonorrohoea and was counselled, but when he came back he was feeling much better thank you and clearly was just expecting to be told all was well (it was just gonorrohoea – everything else was a ‘check-up). But I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone quite so distraught – it was as if he felt his whole life had suddenly just slammed to a halt and couldn’t see any way forward. This was at a time when treatment was not so effective though – and he probably was thinking ‘death sentence’. My point here? There is no way of giving bad news – just some that are a bit better. But you owe it to yourself to be as well prepared as possible just in case.

  28. One other interesting take on this – I also had a guy come back for his results who’d been mulling everything over and concluded that he’d like to have all the regular one back, but just couldn’t handle the HIV test result: he’d just prefer not to know and even though that meant living with uncertainty; it was better that way. But of course, I had his -ve result in my hands. Should I respect his very clear request? I really didn’t know what to do – so just told him that he shouldn’t worry, I thought everything would be ok whatever he decided. Yes, you REALLY don’t need to worry….”So does that mean it’s -ve?” Biggest thank you I’d had for ages…

  29. I wonder how often the Soi 11 clinic sees positive results if they are the defacto bar girl testing site.

  30. I did go back. I asked if they always use clean needles. I didn’t expect them to say anything but yes. But I was encouraged by how emphatically they insisted they do. Come to think of it I doubt they’d be in business long if they were recycling needles so I think I got worked up over nothing.

    I tested negative which is an obvious relief. I didn’t want to ask about how many positives they see though I would be interested toknow.

  31. This place has been around for some time, at one time they gave discounts to bar/club owners for having all there staff tested , that didn’t last long as 95% of places don’t require testing and the owners don’t want to foot the bill.

    There are cheaper options for thai’s around the area, but for the rest of us soi 11 is a good cost effective option.

  32. A Hillary service girl told me every female LD and dek-serve at the Hillary bars (and I presume Morning Night also) have the cost of monthly blood tests deducted from their pay, even the dek-serves who claim they don’t go with customers.

    She told me over 1,000 baht, and they don’t have any say in what they are tested for, and receive no feedback unless there is a positive result. Said dek-serve said she had never heard of anyone getting a positive result.

    This link discusses free HIV testing available in Bangkok.

    Would the Red Cross notify blood donors if their donated blood tested HIV positive?

    About a year ago, a BG pointed out to me the small STD clinic on Sukhumvit near Soi 22 that she said many bars send their ladies to. They get the result stamped in a small book that bar managers can review to ensure compliance and good health. Har Har

  33. the best place to get tested for HIV is at samitivej hospital at sukhumvit. the result is written in a carbonized paper and its sealed. nurses wouldn’t be able to see the results. at least in this hospital, you are really sure that they are using sterile needles and that nurses are using gloves. the fee is 600 baht. you will get the results in 2 hours.

  34. Thanks werewolf. Went there today 1pm, still 500 baht. Will get result tomorrow 1pm.
    Though only now I see there are other options, like expat described.
    Anyway, I was out within 5 minutea, but will have to call them about the result, since I don’t have time to go there. It better be good

  35. People, please don’t make a big deal about if they wear gloves or not. Gloves protect the health care provider from you, not the other way around! Your the one getting a hole poked into your body and how many times have you ever seen a health care provider without intact skin? I actually prefer no gloves because when I place an IV or do a blood draw in a patient I have better tactile sensation and improved success. And yes on occasion I get blood on my hand(s) but having intact skin and not splashing it into my eyes or mucus membranes seems to be working fine. Now if I were not working with the pediatric population and say with Thai hookers and their customers, I might think twice about wearing gloves, but even then the stats on seroconversions to health care workers are near zero, let alone a seropositive provider infecting a patient…Main thing to worry about is if you see them wash their hands prior to wearing or not wearing gloves! Hospitals and clinics are where the nasty shit lives. Also for those worried about clean needles, just ask to see them set up the phlebotomy kit before the draw. Examine the packaging looking for the sterile expiration date and if it’s wet or discolored prior to opening. Most health care providers are most accommodating with any concerns a patient may have, and if they aren’t go else where!

    1. nurseRon – I only make a big deal about you wearing a rubber glove over your todger – and saying you are going to check my prostrate.


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