Today, here in the USA, is National HIV Testing Day. On this date, the public is encouraged to take advantage of the numerous opportunities, nationwide, to take a few moments and to be tested for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Many health departments, local pharmacies and other health-care institutions are offering free HIV tests to any and all. Many people are volunteering (myself included) to work so that our organizations can offer testing to as many as possible with a minimum wait for results!
There is a common myth that the GLBTQ community avoids HIV testing sites in order to maintain the confidentiality of their sexual preference. This may have been very true during the time of the outbreak of the HIV pandemic. However, those days are now in the past and with the growing acceptance of our community, many are no longer bothered with any concern or fear that taking a test reveals anything other than what it actually is: a measurement of our health.
There is no shame in knowing our HIV status so that we can continue with living our lives. It is far better to be aware and to employ prevention strategies than to remain ignorant of our status and to have needless worries as we progress through life.
Testing for HIV is by no means restricted to just today. It is available every day throughout the year either at local public health departments, private physicians and through the offices of almost every healthcare institution. Most testing done during this time usually indicates a persons HIV status in under an hour or less. It is mandated that each test includes counseling before the test is administered and after results have been given.
The major benefit in being tested is that in knowing our status, we are able to access medication that helps us maintain a healthy and productive life. The medicines assist our body in combating the infection and enables us to avoid many major infections that hinder our immune system. Being tested also gives us a chance to learn of any behaviors that we currently practice that increase our risk of acquiring HIV.
Another benefit that testing offers is that if we are uninfected, we can begin the process of applying for the PrEP medication that protects us from the disease, even if we are sexually active with an HIV-infected partner. Knowledge is indeed a powerful tool to have! Knowing our HIV status allows us freedom in making many decisions and not having to worry about results.
Happy National HIV Testing Day!