The importance of HIV/STD testing
Often when people delay getting tested for HIV and STDs, it’s because of stigma. Or just not wanting to know the actual answer to a question that your brain can’t seem to put out. But the reasons for knowing your status should outweigh your fears, as the test is the necessary starting point for staying healthy. There have been so many advances in the treatment of HIV over the years, and now we know that if you are on effective treatment, it is impossible to transmit the virus.
I’m going to share some of my personal story with testing, just to provide context and share some in-game skin as I’m advocating for people – who may be test-averse – to get out of their zone of comfort.
As a child, I was in a high risk group for HIV in the 1980s due to my reliance on blood product treatments for my haemophilia. One day my parents had me tested and it came back positive. My life, of course, has changed. But as a minor, the decision to get tested was my parents, and they weren’t even going to tell me it happened if the result was negative. In that regard, I had it easy when it came to getting tested.
Fast forward to adulthood – I am in my early twenties and I meet and fall in love with a fellow HIV educator, Gwenn, who is HIV negative. We start educating as a couple, encouraging open dialogue about sex, testing, and healthy relationships. Even though we practiced safe sex, the first time Gwenn took an HIV home test, we were both nervous. And we were educators! Intellectually, we knew she had not been exposed to the virus. But still, the stories of the surprise positive results floating around have lingered. The test was negative – not only were we relieved, but we also became better educators in the future, as we shared how this test affected we. It’s really helped us connect and empathize with people who can’t bring themselves to get tested.
I hope if you haven’t been tested in a while, or if you’ve never been tested and have been sexually active, you’ll think about it. A positive status is better than a question mark, and knowing is always better when it comes to your health.
Here is some information provided by STDCheck.com: “Testing saves lives. Even though HIV diagnoses have declined over the years, tens of thousands of people will still be infected with the disease this year,” said Dr. David Jayne, Medical Director of STDcheck.com. The site is offering free tests to readers of this blog by July. Call 1-800-456-2323. Let the customer representative know that you found out about this through Shawn & Gwenn. They will give you all the information you need to receive a free HIV test!