Friday, July 22, 2011


Welcome! I’ve always liked that word welcome…so much more personal and inviting than saying hello. So welcome to the Geffen Center’s blog, Perspectives. The goal of Perspectives is to give readers a view into the world around HIV prevention and testing through the eyes of those who work closely in the field. My name is Walter Vickerie and I am an author and HIV Test Counselor/Phlebotomist with GMHC’s Geffen Testing Center. I love to write and enjoy healthy discussions around provocative and topical issues. One of those issues being the importance around HIV testing and prevention. For the past two years I have been fortunate enough to be part of the Geffen Center and have tested hundreds of people from varied backgrounds. Through my work as a counselor I’ve heard thousands of stories and in those stories there are often provoking questions that bring about great topics for discussion amongst the testing team. It is my hope that Perspectives will do the same thing by simultaneously opening minds and encouraging dialogue on a larger platform. In addition, it’s my objective to get readers of this blog to truly see the importance around HIV testing and prevention. Let’s make this a space of bettering ourselves through knowledge because the more knowledge we all have the better. Lastly, your thoughts and experiences matter to me so please feel free to chime in on stories that provoke your minds and touch your hearts. Until next time, stay safe! 

What’s In a Question?
Whether we are testing in the office or out in the field people always want to know: Why do we ask so many personal questions? I will be the first to say yes… it’s a lot but it’s all for you. Why? It’s because our questions are excellent gateways to providing much needed information to clients. Case in point…, I recently had a client who was in a six-month relationship. He and his partner were considering having sex without condoms. I asked him did he know his partner’s status. He said, ‘Yes. He tested negative a year ago.’ I told him it was great that he knew the information but that was a year ago and his partner’s status might not be the same. In the world of prevention, there is a term known as the “window period,” and it was important with the client had a clear understanding of what it meant. [Window Period: the time from infection until a test can detect any change in HIV status. Three weeks after exposure the window opens and closes three months thereafter.] In short I let the client know his partner’s year- old results was just that… a year old! A week later the client came back with his partner to be tested! So you see our questions opened up a conversation that ultimately empowered the client to make a more informed decision. Remember we are here to service you…so help us to help you! Until next time, stay safe!

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