Every year since 1988, World Aids Day has been held on the first of December. The day serves as “an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV and to commemorate people who have died,” according to WorldAidsDay.org.
The fight against HIV is a tough one, as every 9.5 minutes someone in the United States gets infected with the disease.
But we have the tools to join in the fight by practicing safe sex and learning our status, so this December take the time out to get tested and learn your HIV status.
Have anxiety about it?
You’re not the only one. I know the nervousness that accompanies getting tested, but knowing your status is better than being uninformed.
Why? Here are 5 reasons:
1. People living with HIV are capable of living long and healthy lives today with treatment, so like other infectious diseases, early intervention is key.
2. Using protection through barrier methods (dental dams and/or condoms) AND learning your HIV status protects both you and your sex partners from HIV and other STIs. If you’re sexually active with one partner, make it a date to go get tested together. (Sex afterwards will be better knowing you both cared enough to be safe.)
3. It’s free and confidential—no one can disclose your HIV status. A list of free and confidential clinics can be found Here at NYC.gov., with locations in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, and the Bronx. Planned Parenthood also offers free and confidential HIV and STI screening. You can also buy an FDA approved HIV test to use in the privacy of your own home.
4. Being informed and educated about sexual health will not only make the experience better, but also it makes you more responsible for your body and the choices you make. The saying is true: when you know better, you do better.
5. Be part of the solution. When you get tested, take the time out to learn how HIV is transmitted (one way is through genital fluids) and how it is not transmitted (never through saliva). Take the time to learn about common misconceptions, myths, and how homophobia contributes to the stigmatization of HIV.
It is possible win the battle against HIV/AIDS as long as we all make an effort, so let’s all get tested, talk about it, and stop the stigma.
(*Recently, the ONE organization announced some encouraging news. If progress continues, we may be able to see “the beginning of the end of AIDS” as early as 2015! Learn more about progress here.)