Getting an HIV test is ridiculously easy and necessary

t’s as simple as a finger prick.

Or a swab of the mouth. Either way, getting tested for HIV is not a Herculean task.

Yes, there is the fear of knowing. But wait – even before we get to that point, there’s the energy it takes to work up the courage to actually go and get tested that leads into the “what if” scenarios that begin running through your mind.

Raise your hand if this is you: You’ve had sex, unprotected, with another person. You spend days, weeks worrying if something might be wrong. You don’t “feel” sick, but then you start to monitor yourself a little more closely. Every time you feel more tired than usual, every time you wake up in a cold sweat, every time you cough, you worry.

It’s better to know for sure than to not know at all. But here’s the thing: If your HIV test – which is free at many, many clinics and testing stations, by the way – has a positive diagnosis, it’s not the end of the world.


Thanks to treatments tailor-made for your body, those living with HIV are living longer, healthier, more productive lives. It is no longer the death sentence it once was.

But not knowing is even more dangerous. Y’all know how we can be sometimes. “I know my body. I don’t need to see a doctor. I’m not trying to take no pills.” All the while you’re unaware of your status, you’re potentially spreading a virus to someone else. And that’s not fair to anyone.

In the above video, I’m showing you how easy it is to get tested. (That’s my real blood!) And if I’m comfortable sharing this with you all, then hopefully you’ll take the appropriate measures to know your status as well. And also, consider these important facts:

Know the difference between PreP and PeP: Pre-exposure prophylactics – PreP — is a preventative medication that can reduce HIV transmission rates by 98%. Though increasingly common among gay men, it is available via prescription to everyone. PeP — post-exposure prophylactics — is a one-time prescription for those who believe they may have been exposed to HIV.

Don't stigmatize those who use PreP medication: "People make a lot of assumptions on sexual activity based on using those drugs," says Miguel Garcia, one of my testers at Adult Well-Being Services. He notes the hashtag "#TruvadaWhores," referencing one of the more common PreP drugs, but also the stigma that those who take the drug are either overtly promiscuous or are sex workers. "Oftentimes, it's not true," he says. Don't be afraid to take PreP; it's for your own health.

Consider how HIV can be transmitted: Though HIV is commonly thought of as spread through blood, it can also be spread through breast milk and semen. And vaginal sex is not the only sexual contact that can spread the virus; anal sex, regardless of gender, is also a mode of transmission. "And tattoos as well," Edith Smith, a peer support specialist at AWBS, notes. With the rise of unlicensed tattoo artists, many people getting tattoos are being inked with infected needles; please go to a licenesed tattoo artist that thoroughly cleans their needles.

Remember how HIV can't be transmitted: "People are still funny about drinking out the same cup," Garcia says. "And people still think it can be spread through a handshake or a hug." Just a reminder: HIV can't be spread by saliva, sweat or skin-to-skin contact.

There are still barriers to treatment: In Detroit, black women who are low-income do not have access to doctors or education, hence why that population is among the most at risk for new HIV inventions in the area.

If your immune system is compromised, you’re susceptible to other diseases: 80% of those infected with HIV through intravaneous drug use are also infected with Hepatitis C. It's important to know your status so that you can be properly treated for other illnesses.

Self-care is key: "Love yourself first to protect yourself," Smith says. Having the courage to love yourself and know your status means you can not only take care of yourself, but others around you as well.


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