By Phill Wilson
NNPA Guest Columnist
Do you know your HIV status? Do you know the HIV status of your intimate partner(s)? Do all of your family members, loved ones and friends know their HIV status? There is no reason to reply “no” to any of the above questions because it has never been easier or more important to know where you stand.
Today, HIV tests are available for free in most areas. They are easy – no more blood. They’re painless – no more needles. They are fast – in some cases you can get your results back in one minute. There are even options to take an HIV test in the privacy of your home. With all of those advances, there’s no excuse for not knowing your status or making sure that your intimate partners, your family and your friends know theirs as well.
Friday, June 27th, is National HIV Testing Day. Health departments, AIDS-service organizations and other community-based organizations all over the country will be holding events offering opportunities for people to get a free HIV test. Many of these events actually offer incentives, although personally I think the biggest HIV testing incentive of all is receiving information that might save your life.
For example, Walgreens is partnering with our Greater Than AIDS campaign and Black Treatment Advocates Networks across the country to provide HIV testing in select Walgreen stores.
The municipal government of Compton, Calif. is embracing HIV prevention and treatment. The mayor, city manager and city council are sponsoring an HIV testing event in partnership with their local farmers’ market and the Metropolitan Transit Authority. This is an example of creative thinking and taking the message to the community. Partnering with the transit authority means that people don’t have to go out of their way to get an HIV test. They can take the test before get on or after they get off the train at the Compton Metro Station. And linking up with the local farmers’ market makes the connection between HIV testing and your general health. We need to engage in creative endeavors like these to end the AIDS epidemic.
HIV testing is the first step in helping people living with HIV to get the care and treatment they need as well as in helping HIV negative people get vital information about protecting themselves. It’s a win-win. If you don’t know your HIV status, or you know someone who does not know their HIV status, this week is the perfect time to take action. Mark your calendar! “Note to self: Get tested for HIV today!”
Phill Wilson is the president and CEO of The Black AIDS Institute, the only national HIV/AIDS think tank in the United States focused exclusively on Black people. Follow him on Twitter @iamphillwilson. Wilson is also available for interviews and press inquiries. Contact 213-353-3610, ext. 105, or PhillWilson@BlackAIDS.org.