My worst fear has always been stumbling upon a terminal illness and doctors saying to me, “If we had caught it earlier maybe we could have done something about it but it’s too late now.”

This hypochondria is the reason why I always go for my health check-ups as scheduled. I go for an HIV test as often as I can and now that they test for HIV by swabbing the saliva in your mouth, its less scarier than the thumb prick blood method. So I went to the United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH) for a free VIAC which is a cervical cancer screening.I had tried to go to NewStart but they were booked for the next three months. I didn’t have that long to wait. I needed to know what’s what.

I woke up early to go to UBH. They serve you on a first come, first served basis. I needed to be first. I sat in the waiting room. I was third. By the time 08:00 hours came around, the queue was absurd. My turn came and I walked towards the screening room. My nerves were killing me. I had never done this before. I knew what they were going to check so I made sure that I was shaved in preparation.

A young woman was going to do the test. She asked me about my reproductive health. She asked very personal questions but I guess they have cause to probe that deep. After she was done taking notes, she instructed me to remove my underwear and mount myself on the fancy chair. They make you put your feet up and your legs are wide open. This isn’t the time to be shy. Keep your eye on the prize, remember why you came.

She explained the procedure and what exactly she is going to do. She scooped the cotton wool and dipped it in what smelt like vinegar. She then placed it where she supposed to and said we must wait. After a couple of minutes she took a picture and showed it to me. She explained that if the result had been positive a white froth would have appeared.

I was then told to go and get a free HIV test in the next building. This took a much longer time. It wasn’t complicated, it was a standard HIV test using the prick thumb method. I got my results and took them back to the first building. She explained to me that they run the HIV test to determine when next I should come for my next VIAC. If my HIV test had come out positive, I’d have had to come for a VIAC annually. This is because the HIV increases my risk to cervical cancer and other opportunistic diseases.

You need to overcome the fear of the unknown and get this cervical cancer check done. It is a free and simple procedure. It’s minimally intrusive. It is much less intrusive than a pap smear. Get a group of friends together and make it a tradition. The nerves are calmer and time goes by real fast if you are with people that you trust.

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