Commentary: Why HIV Testing Matters to You

June 27 is National HIV Testing Day. Do you know your status?

Posted: 06/27/2014 01:00 PM EDT

It could never happen to me?

I went to college.

I’m middle class.

My man is not on the low.

It only happens to “those” people.

Over the past 8 years that I’ve been writing about HIV/AIDS, I have heard plenty of ridiculous and uninformed excuses from other Black women as to why they don’t need to be tested for HIV. Heck, I’ve even gone to an OB/GYN and asked to be tested for HIV and talked out of it, because in her opinion, I wasn’t “the type.”

And while poverty and lack of access to quality health care are huge risk factors for contracting HIV, you can have an Ivy League degree and work on Wall Street and still have the disease, too.

All Black women are the face of HIV/AIDS. Point blank, period.

African-American women account for 64 percent of all newly diagnosed HIV infections among women in the U.S. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 32 Black women will test HIV-positive in her life, and African-American women are 15 times more likely than white women to test positive.

While this seems depressing, there has been some good news.

According to a CDC report, between 2008-2010, HIV transmission rates among Black women went down 21 percent. And a huge part of that was because more of us practiced safer sex and got tested for HIV.

And I get it—testing can be really scary.

Even I, someone who knows about HIV and has friends living with the disease, was still scared to get tested, too. Knowing better, I even waited a few years to get tested. But finally I realized that I couldn’t move forward with my life until I knew my status.

And I hear you when you say, “But my life will end when I know.”

But really it’s the opposite. Your life begins when you get your results. If you test negative, you need to make sure you stay that way. And if you test positive, now you know and you can get the life-saving treatment you need. Remember: While HIV is no cakewalk, it’s not the death sentence that it was once was.

So this National HIV Testing Day, ask yourself, will you step up and have peace of mind or let another year go by and not know your status?

The choice is yours.

The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.

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