I worked as Sex Worker on a casual basis from 2007 to early 2012 and have vowed to discontinue all sex work. (Yes, this is a ‘I have left prostitution’ as well as a ‘I was HIV Indeterminate’ piece.)
This piece, as well as touching on the waiting time for follow-up testing for ‘HIV Indeterminate’ results, contains a small ode to the many who- to me- work or have worked as a Sex Worker for positive reasons and/or outcomes.
My departure from Sex Work was abrupt. I had a routine Blood Test which came back as ‘Indeterminate’ for HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus.) As a person who personally was on their way out the door of Sex Work, this was a final push.
Having had recent travel vaccinations and then daily food poisoning while travelling overseas, I hoped against hope that this ‘Indeterminate’ result would not later become ‘Positive’- an ‘Indeterminate’ result on a HIV test can be the result of factors that have nothing at all to do with HIV or be as a result of the window period in testing: therefore indicating the possibility of early HIV infection. (For more information on this, please google ‘HIV Indeterminate.’)
From the time of receiving the ‘Indeterminate’ result I waited 4 weeks to see whether or not I had contracted this -at present- incurable illness (HIV.) And, as I had a long-term partner, the ‘I’ became ‘We.’ We were both terrified that if I had contracted HIV he would also be infected through our own occasional Sex without a condom (with each other.)
Like many people who have received a ‘HIV Indeterminate’ result, I was at risk of contracting HIV though condom slips (for some, this can be straight out having had outright unprotected sex.) Both involve the exchange of body fluids.
I had experienced a few condom slips over the time I worked as a Sex Worker and had followed the procedures recommended by any reputable resource regarding condom slips (this does NOT include douching or spermicide, which is NOT recommended following much research in contemporary times…) bar one crucial element which I think eliminates a lot of ‘Chance’ when it comes -pun intended- to slipped condoms or similar exposure to bodily fluids: taking the drug PEP within 72 hours of potential exposure to HIV. Perhaps in saying this I am being controversial- better to be on the left side of the fence when it comes to an incurable illness like HIV.
There’s nearly no way of knowing whether or not clients -or for that matter the general population- (while working as a Sex Worker, sleeping with a person who you're dating, or met that night at a club,) get tested or are aware of their current Positive/Negative status for HIV- taking PEP is an added measure in the unfortunate incidence of condom slips/similar.
Fortunately, my partner while I was ‘Indeterminate’ tested Negative for HIV, and when I retested after waiting 4 weeks my result was back to Negative also (no ‘Indeterminate’.) We were lucky.
Possibly having infected him with HIV was devastating for me, as well as terrifying, agonizing AND a massive betrayal of trust for him.
About the good times: Sex Work can be personally and financially empowering and/or fulfilling. Many men/women have utilized well the opportunities that Sex Work can bring. And, many of the stereotypes about Sex Work are true: both pleasant and unpleasant.
I decided I never wanted to go through a HIV scare again (and as said, I was on my way out the door…) That is my experience only.
Receiving an INDETERMINATE HIV RESULT is a scary experience- there is a chance that you will become HIV Positive or HIV Negative or remain HIV Indeterminate. And, if you do turn out to remain Negative or Indeterminate, it’s very important to learn ways of staying that way.
A little social commentary: with good treatments available for HIV and the absence of the Grim Reaper messages, there seems to be less recognition in the community of the risks and consequences of contracting the illness. HIV is a serious illness. Through out the ‘Noughties the rates of HIV throughout the world has steadily increased. I was so lucky due to my risks that I did not contract HIV.
No-one’s life is more important than anyone else’s. HIV can happen to you or me or your partner. It can happen to mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, sisters, brothers, friends, best friends and celebrities. HIV does not discriminate. Please be careful and don't risk it.