"I'd rather not know if I have HIV."
"If you go looking for it, you might just find it."
"My boyfriend got tested and he is negative, so I am fine. Don't need to get tested."
Those are all excuses that we might have made or heard someone else make as to why they don't need or don’t want to get tested for HIV. Yet getting tested for HIV is what can save our lives and yet an estimated 250,000-300,000 Americans are unaware of their HIV status.
In hopes to get more people tested for HIV, the National Association of People with AIDS (NAPWA) created the National HIV Testing Day. This year's theme is Take the Test, Take Control—and they are hoping that thousands across the country will come to a participating testing center in their area and know their status.
NAPWA has gotten a lot of people involved in this day as well. Mayors all over the country have joined the Mayors Campaign Against HIV by issuing proclamations declaring June 27 to be National their own cities. Elected leaders and HIV community experts spoke spoke June 24 at a National HIV Testing Day press conference on Capitol Hill. And Monday, June 27, CNN and other media will watch NAPWA, OraSure Technologies, HealthHIV, and mayors observe National HIV Testing Day by opening the trading day at NASDAQ.
And so why does this matter to us? It's easy, getting tested early and early diagnosis is going to save our lives.
It's no secret that AIDS is the number one killer of Black women ages 25–34. Black men who have sex with men (MSM) have the highest HIV rate among all racial groups of MSM. Overall, while African-Americans make up a mere 14 percent of the overall U.S. population, they account for more than half of all new HIV infections that are diagnosed each year. And to make matters worse, African-Americans are more likely to be diagnosed with HIV and AIDS at the same time than any other racial group, meaning they're less likely to get tested until they're very ill.
And if we unaware of our status and you are HIV-positive, overtime your health worsens because you are not on any type of treatment. And treatment is crucial, because its goal is to suppress the virus, stop it from replicating and lower your viral load—all of which keeps you healthy and lowers the chance of you infecting other people. Now, if people are walking around not knowing their status, with very high viral loads, they are very infectious and may be unintentionally infecting other people when having unprotected sex.
So in a sense getting tested isn't just something you should do for you, but something that you should do for your loved ones and your community too.
And no HIV/AIDS is not the death sentence it used to be, but not wanted to know will lead to death. So whatever the outcome—HIV negative or HIV positive—now you finally know and have the knowledge of how to move forward.
To learn of places you can get tested in your area, click here.