If you’ve been getting any action in the last few months (or since your last HIV test), listen up! This Saturday, June 27, is National HIV Testing Day and the best thing you can possibly do for yourself and for our community is to get tested. Get that on your calendar for this week.
Not so sure? Here are five important facts about HIV testing that we hope will convince you to get busy and get tested.
1. You could be HIV positive and not even know it.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), one in seven people with HIV in this country don’t know they have it. Some estimates are higher. With 50,000 brand new infections every year in the United States, it is absolutely crucial that you know your status.
No matter your HIV test results, taking the test means you are already doing your part to protect yourself and others. If you test negative, you will know you haven’t put anyone at risk – and it will encourage you to keep making smart decisions. If you are not already on PrEP, you might consider starting the regimen.
If you test positive, you can take advantage of a variety of medications (with fewer pills and side effects than ever) that can reduce the virus in your body to undetectable levels. Science has proven that people with HIV who have an undetectable viral load are not transmitting HIV to their partners. Getting people with HIV to undetectable levels is a huge factor in slowing the epidemic–not to mention keeping your own body healthy and ready for more action.
Yes, getting testing can be scary. But so is having HIV and not treating it. Ask any friend who survived the 1980’s, when there weren’t effective medications. It wasn’t pretty.
When was your last test, and how many risky things – unprotected sex, drug or alcohol use, wild nights out – have you done since then? Being confident of your status is about being consistent.
The CDC recommends an HIV test for everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 as part of routine health care. For those at higher risk – that would be us – a test at least twice a year is recommended, especially if your bedroom dance card has been full or you’ve been partying.
4. Getting tested is easier than ever, and you have plenty of choices.
Boys, do you have options. Choose one and get ‘er done:
- Visit Get Tested and enter your ZIP code.
- Text your ZIP code to KNOWIT (566948), and you will receive a text back with a testing site near you.
- Call 800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636) to ask for free testing sites in your area.
- Contact your local health department or HIV service agency.
- Get a home testing kit (the Home Access HIV-1 Test System or the OraQuick In-Home HIV Test) from a drugstore.
Offer to go with a buddy to support him emotionally as he gets his results. Get tested together with that guy you’ve been seeing. Ask a friend about the last time he took the test.