It was a lit vacay!

Keisha's Story

It was our annual ladies’ getaway at the most beautiful resort. My friends always know me as the life of the party but looking back I could tell even they were concerned about me during that vacation. I love meeting new people and like to make new friends on vacation, but my girls often worry that I’ll end up in trouble if I continue to be so trusting with everyone.


This was by far the best girls’ trip yet. For me at least. I met a handsome friend to keep me company on the resort and we spent nearly every night together. On the last night he asked me if I wanted to get matching tattoos to remember each other by. It seemed fun, spontaneous, and sentimental; all the things I love. I’ve never gotten one before, but my best friend is covered in tattoos, and I’ve gone with her enough times to know a few things about how a clean tattooing station is supposed to look. The place he brought me to didn’t look like what I was used to at all, but the artist assured us that she has done this many times before, and that we had nothing to worry about.  Me and the vacation boo had been intimate the entire trip, and we had so much fun together. I trusted him.  

What reason did I have not to? The tattoo artist used the equipment on him first, then on me. It was more painful than I expected, but I’m glad I got to share that moment with him. I will never tell my friends about it. They gave me enough of a hard time just for hanging out with the guy, the last thing I need them knowing is that we got matching tattoos in a foreign country.


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.

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