On Friday June 25, the non-profit CAARE, Inc sponsored a free National HIV Testing Day Event in Durham, North Carolina, for low-income families. The event encouraged teens and adults to come out and get tested for HIV. They offered free refreshments, prizes, and various activities and classes. Hundreds of people showed up in Durham for the National HIV Testing Day Event. Although I do not live in Durham, and I did not get tested at the event, I went to check things out and show support for the entire Raleigh-Durham community.
The National Association of People with AIDS (NAPWA) created the National HIV Testing Day over 15 years ago. Throughout the United States on an annual basis, local groups and organizations promote HIV awareness, testing, and hold local events on or around June 27.
According to Durham’s Herald Sun, Sharon Elliott-Bynum, executive director and co-founder of CAARE, said testing is the best way to prevent spreading the disease.
“For us to eradicate HIV, which we can, we have to test, so that we know the status of individuals,” she said. “What happens is that people are having unprotected sex. They’re spreading the virus unknowingly. If they don’t know their status, they can’t protect the person they’re involved with. So what we do here is to test for free. We remove all barriers.”
Nowadays, a person can be tested for HIV via a “rapid test” and know their status within 10-30 minutes. Years ago, if you wanted to be tested for HIV you had to wait around two weeks for results, which was akin to slow torture.
When I was a student at UNC – Chapel Hill, I remember one of my best friends telling me that her gynecologist encouraged her to obtain an HIV test, although she was married. In my opinion, that is a good thing for any doctor to do for his patients. Ultimately, you never know 100 percent what your partner is doing, and it is better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your health.
I have been routinely tested for HIV by my doctor since 2001. Why? I found out that my long-term boyfriend had been having unprotected sex with other men. Regardless of who people choose to sleep around with (male or female) behind closed doors, I think that we all need to take responsibility for our actions.
While being HIV positive is no longer considered a death sentence, early detection and treatment are key. For us to truly gain control over the spread of HIV and AIDS,, testing should be routinely encouraged by all medical practitioners, and it should be free to all. Prevention is the key to spreading HIV.
In the cities of Raleigh or Durham in North Carolina, a student can go to the health center on their campus. Adults can receive testing at sites like Planned Parenthood, the Health Department, and many others. If you have a general practitioner that you currently see, you can simply request the HIV test.
If you are interested in organizations that offer HIV testing in your area, go to www.hivtest.org, to locate a site.
The National Association of People with AIDS (NAPWA)