Testing times

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:33 AM ET

One week after the RCMP sent shockwaves through CFL locker-rooms by announcing Saskatchewan linebacker Trevis Smith is HIV-positive, a handful of Edmonton Eskimos have revealed they plan to have a blood test.

In a classy move by the Eskimo organization on Wednesday, every player received a note indicating anyone in the locker-room can contact the team doctor for a blood test.

Since the RCMP announced Smith has been charged with aggravated sexual assault, plenty has been said and written about the low possibility of contracting the disease on the football field - but the high possibility of receiving the disease through unprotected sex.

In an anonymous poll of 20 Eskimos conducted by the Sun yesterday, five players indicated their intention to have blood work.

"I am going to just to be on the safe side," said one player on condition of anonymity. "You never know."

Added another player: "You owe it to yourself as a human being to take the (blood) test. It is just one of those things, making sure all corners are turned."

However, based on the majority of responses to the Sun's anonymous poll, Smith's status or the threat of contracting HIV hasn't been a major topic in the Eskimo locker-room over the last few days.

"The concern factor on a one out of 10 (scale) would be 0.5," said one veteran member of the Green and Gold.

"If there is any concern, it isn't showing," explained another player.

"Our concern is this game this weekend."

The 11-6 Eskimos will have their final practice of the week today before leaving for Calgary tomorrow to battle the 10-7 Stampeders.

The final game of the regular season on Sunday will decide first, second and third place in the CFL West Division if the Saskatchewan Roughriders defeat the B.C. Lions on Saturday night in Vancouver.

If the Lions win, the Esks-Stamps battle will decide second and third place, meaning home field advantage in the West semi-final on Nov. 13. An Eskimo win or tie gives the club second.

"We are playing the biggest game of our season," continued the player.

"I think the guys who are out there enjoying the fruits of their hard work have to look at themselves in the mirror and get tested and do the right thing if the unfortunate should come up," continued the player, referring to leaving the team if a blood test comes back HIV-positive.

"The last thing you want is to be put on the stage like Trevis Smith.

"I think, for the most part, the guys in here are very aware of their sexual activity and understand the consequences if you are not safe."


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