June 27th is National HIV Testing Day. We, as a nation, have made great strides in the battle against HIV/AIDS since the 1980's, but there is still plenty of misinformation and stigma surrounding this disease.
The number one stigma facing HIV is the stereotype that it only affects the LGBTQ+ community. This assessment is flat out wrong and harmful. While Black, Hispanic, and White homosexuals are the most affected subpopulations in America, HIV can affect anyone, anywhere, at any time regardless of their race, gender, nationality, or sexual orientation.
The most common way HIV spreads is through unprotected sexual contact, meaning if you have ever had unprotected sex or sexual contact with someone who had not been medically tested and proven to be HIV negative, you have put yourself and others at risk. We all make mistakes, but knowledge is the first step in preventing the spread of HIV. Knowing your HIV status can insure the medical safety of your friends, family, and loved ones.
HIV testing isn't just important to some. It is important to all. That is why you should encourage anyone you care about, especially your significant other, to get tested as well. While it may seem odd or rude to ask, persuading your loved ones to get tested for HIV shows that you care. About 1.1 million people live in the United States with HIV, and 1 out of 7 of those people are unaware of their status. Don't let you or your colleagues become another statistic. Ask them if they are #DoingIt.
HIV can strike at any time, so get tested regularly. If you have been sexually active in the past, then getting tested can bring clarity into your HIV status, but if you are currently sexually active, getting tested regularly is the best way to stay aware of your HIV risk and status. While it may be frightening or uncomfortable to discuss STD's, HIV is too serious to ignore. HIV can lie dormant for years, even decades, before becoming active and debilitating its host. Prevention through safe sex practices such as condoms and PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) are excellent ways to reduce new infections but knowing your HIV status is equally as important. Next week, June 27th, is National HIV Testing Day. Keep your community, your loved ones, and yourself safe by getting tested for HIV. Be proactive and join the #DoingIt movement.
For more information visit the CDC website: https://www.cdc.gov/actagainstaids/campaigns/doingit/index.html