How Do I Test Without My Wife Finding Out?
Hey Gayle, I'm DLow, I know I should be testing for HIV and STIs but I can't get a test because my wife & I go to the same doctor - I want to keep my family safe, help!
So glad you reached out - I really want this to be a safe space to ask questions like this. I’ve met a few down-low guys in my time and I know it’s not an easy position to be in.
You won’t get any judgment from me, so please know that my advice is coming purely from wanting to support you - that doesn’t mean some of the advice won’t be hard to hear.
Going to the same doctor as your family for sex stuff is a pretty common concern for folks. A lot of people fear that their doctor might accidentally out them to their families - as well as a general fear of being judged for our behaviour.
Our health sector really isn’t there yet with consistently creating safe spaces for people like us. While we work towards upskilling people, there are several other testing options you can use, outside of the family doctor.
Home tests! So, there are these wonderfully easy HIV self-tests you can get. All you have to do is a quick gum swab and sit through a 20-minute wait, all from the comfort of your own home.
There are a few ways you can get these - but the easiest is through Ending HIV (plus, if you meet the criteria, it’s free!). The best part is they arrive at your door or workplace in plain packaging and doesn’t say it’s from an HIV or sexual health organisation. They recommend you remember this handy adage for keeping testing regularly in mind: brush twice a day, test twice a year!
You should also be testing for a full range of STIs, as well as HIV. One service I’ve come across that does a discreet home version is Sexual Health 101. They distribute a stack of different tests in subtle packaging to your preferred address. Ending HIV actually subsidises their kits for guys who have sex with other guys - so head to their Get a Test page, and if you meet the criteria there will be an option to "Buy an HIV and STI self-test kit".
Depending on where you are, your local sexual health clinic should also be a good option. The folks working there are sexual health professionals and tend to have more encounters with gay, bi and DLow guys, so are more likely to be able to help you in a way that doesn’t make you feel as uncomfortable as you might with your GP. They can organise a whole range of STI tests (which includes HIV testing) for you and, depending on your age, this could be free too. You should also be able to get some condoms while you’re there, wink wink, nudge nudge.
I do need to get a couple of hard truths out of the way now that I’ve filled you in on some of the other options for testing. Please do read on, even if it seems hard.
Keeping your family safe is super important, and testing regularly is definitely one way to do that. But you should also always be using condoms when you’re meeting guys. This is even more important if you and your wife still have a sexual relationship and don’t use condoms together. These hookups could be putting your wife at risk, and if she doesn’t know that you are playing away she won’t know that she was even at risk and may now need to get tested.
If you do contract something on your adventures, and you had been intimate with your wife (as hard as it might be to tell her) - she’ll need to know she should get a test, and treatment if transmission has occurred. Many STIs can be really harmful to the body over time and don’t always have obvious symptoms. STIs can be especially tricky if you’re trying for kids, as Syphilis, for example, can cause miscarriages and stillbirths. Heavy we know, but that’s why it’s so important to test often, notify partners, and treat early for all STIs.
Whether you personally identify as a gay or bi man, or simply as a guy who’s having sex with other guys and don’t want a label - we are all fighting for the day when you don’t have to hide who you are. If you are struggling with your identity, any mental health issues around your situation, or just want someone to talk to who is not going to judge you - there are free counselling services available to you through the team at NZAF. Don’t hesitate to reach out - they’re very discreet and are there to help. They speak with many other guys in similar situations every day.
Hopefully, one day, if things feel safe enough for you to share, and you have the right support - you will be able to speak with your wife.