HIV is an epidemic in DC. 1 in 2 black gay men are affected. In 2013 around 2.5% of the population is living with an HIV diagnoses. How can you help stem this? One way is to not engage in risky behaviors and have safer sex to prevent contracting HIV. Second, (but just as important) you can get yourself tested to know your status. I already did, here's what it was like.
This past week there was a free oral cheek swabs at my school. I went to the location in my university and signed some papers. The nurse from the student health center gave me a swab to collect a saliva sample and then mixed the solution for it to process. I went to grab some lunch while waiting for the solution to work. After 20 minutes I came back to a negative test result. I could walk out knowing I was HIV negative.
If the test had come back positive? Then I would have had to go to my doctors for a blood or urine test to evaluate my health. From there proper medical treatment can be pursued and to keep someone who is HIV positive healthy. It can also stop the spread of HIV to someone you care about. Plus, if later down the line the test results do change, I can then track and contact the correct people to figure out how I contracted it and who is at risk. Why wait 10 years after contracting HIV to find out you have developed AIDS when a simple cheek swab could have prevented it? The dancer is not in getting a positive test result, the danger is in not knowing.
So when should you get tested? Well anytime you want to. Discuss with your doctor when you should get tested or if you need to. National Women/Girls HIV Awareness Day is today and that seems as good a time as any. If you need a testing center you can find a list here or call your doctor to schedule an appointment (maybe schedule it in with your other STI test or yearly check up). I already know my status. Do you?