A month after the trip, I had a serious case of vacation blues and decided a fresh blowout and manicure would do the trick to pick me up. As I was sitting in my chair, I came across a pamphlet for something called The Care Salon. When I asked about it my hairdresser mentioned that she’d be hosting the event at her location next week, and that it offers free and anonymous HIV testing. I looked at her, and around the salon. My idea of self-care has always been so focused on my outer appearance, but maybe it’s time I show the same attention to my inner self. I thought about my time with that special guy on vacation, and about the impromptu body art. I thought about a statistic I once read about some of Ontario’s priority populations for HIV being women and African, Caribbean, and Black people, and I thought about the fact that I happened to fall under both of those categories. I also thought about an article I read once about HIV spreading through unclean needles and other tattoo or piercing equipment. I took another look at the pamphlet and stared at my hairdresser; I know the fear in my eyes was unignorable by the way she held my hand before I spoke. I squeezed her hand tightly and put the pamphlet in my purse.
*These stories are not the stories of the people in the photos and do not depict the health status of any individuals in the images.