I’m a little late for World AIDS Day (December 1), but UNAIDS on Twitter told me that every day more than 7,000 people are infected with HIV. While sitting in class watching “House on Fire” (which I highly recommend; it talks about the disparity between the white and black communities with regard to HIV and AIDS), I was reminded of the importance of being tested.
It’s not just enough to be tested once. You can be at risk for contracting HIV if you have participated in unprotected oral sex, vaginal, or anal sex. Even if you participate in these activities and use protection, it’s not 100%. Of course, pregnant women can infect their children and if you use IV drugs you can be infected. It’s important to be tested on a regular basis, as I have friends living with HIV with very few symptoms. As a person who teaches Human Sexuality, every semester I face down myths about HIV including the idea that you can see it, and sadly, there are still people that believe that this is a disease that only affects gay men.
So, please go to Test Together and put in your zip code. I’ll wait. This site allows you to find testing centers near you. I’m also a fan of advocating for anonymous (versus confidential) testing. With anonymous testing, you are in no way linked to your test results, but with confidential testing – it can still (possibly) be linked to you (although of course, no one is going to run around yelling about your test results). I have friends who went the confidential route and have had issues with their insurance (a friend tested positive, did not do any treatment through his insurance, and yet they kept raising his premiums until he could no longer afford it).