HIV Prevention

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.

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I don’t think there is a whole lot more that I can say about Ferguson that hasn’t been articulated before. I do, however, think that the disregard for black lives extends to another arena: HIV prevention and treatment. A 2010 study from the CDC yielded shocking results. Among men who have sex with men (MSM), black men accounted for 39% of all new infections, and those ages 13-24 accounted for a particularly high percentage of the new cases. In 2011, the CDC launched a “Testing Makes Us Stronger” campaign that I interviewed a then-director about. Despite progress at the federal level, locally and statewide, there has been a disregard for more diversity in HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, and education.

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