June 27th is National HIV Testing today and a reminder to get tested to know your HIV status. Many people, particularly in poor communities or in the South, have difficulty getting regular HIV tests, particularly if they identify as LGBTQ. But even in bigger cities, people may be unaware of the different testing options that are available. Others might not think they’re at risk of getting HIV, even though they are.
AIDS.gov, run by the US Department of Health and Human Services, has a tracker that allows you to service by your geographic area. Check it out here or speak with your current primary care provider.
It’s also important to remember that HIV testing offers a window period, meaning that for rapid HIV tests, it can take up to 3 months for an HIV infection to be tested. So, if you think you may have been infected, get retested after the window period has ended and be upfront with your partners about your sexual behaviors. Simply getting tested isn’t enough; having open conversations about risk and desire are key component in stopping the spread of HIV.
We can all work together to end stigma surrounding HIV and create an HIV-neutral world, where people can feel comfortable having sex, no matter their status.
Finally, if you’ve been considering PrEP, check out the CDC information page for links about how PrEP works. No matter where you live in the United States, Gilead offers a co-pay assistance coupon card. In states like New York, there are also government-funded assistance programs to expand access.
For those who are on PrEP and get HIV testing every 3 months, today is a great opportunity to speak out about how PrEP has worked for you, and how this regular testing schedule has impacted your own life.
Black and Latino populations remain disproportionately affected by HIV, and have lower rates of HIV testing and PrEP usage. We can do better to recognize the unique concerns of these communities and all work together to combat structural racism and economic inequality that creates these access issues. The movement for more testing is part of a movement to educate and empower those who are most vulnerable in the LGBTQ community.