Sunday, April 10, 2011

To test or not to test for HIV

Why should I get tested? There is no way I could ever get HIV.  A condom is used EVERY time. My partner and I are in a monogamous relationship.  I don’t do drugs, and don’t share needles. I’ve only ever had unprotected sex once in my life, and I KNOW he didn’t have HIV.  I’ve never had sex with anyone who looked like they had HIV.  I’m straight, so my risk of contracting HIV is much lower.  I go to my doctor every year, and at times when I am not feeling well.  I get my blood drawn for routine tests and never has my doctor told me that anything was wrong with my blood work.   I have never had any symptoms of HIV.  Even though I don’t use a condom, I would NEVER let anyone cum inside me.  I practice the pull out method.  I only have oral sex.  I am afraid to know the answer.  HIV is a myth. I am immune to HIV. 
To those that think that HIV is a Myth.  You are entitled to your opinion, but I can tell you it is not, and to think your body is immune to HIV, it’s not.  You can ask me and the 33 million others across the Globe who are living with HIV, and we must not forget the 65 million who have died from this dreaded disease Globally, since the epidemic began 30 years ago.  AND to the people who say they use a Condom EVERY time, do you really, or is that just what you say to belay your fears of HIV?
You don’t have to do drugs, and share needles to get HIV, and even though you are a straight white women or male in a monogamous relationship, and your chances for catching HIV are lowered, are you really in a monogamous relationship; how can you be sure? AND even though your chances MAY be lower, they are not zero. AND to those who say they go to their doctor for yearly check-ups and never has the Doctor detected HIV; he won’t unless you have asked him or he has asked you for your permission to do an HIV test.  HIV testing is NOT routine in yearly physical exams, and it cannot be detected in routine blood work.  
Just because you don’t let anyone cum inside you, and practice the pull out method; you are at risk. If you only have oral sex; you are at risk. AND to say you’ve never had sex with anyone who looks like they have HIV, how do you know what someone with HIV looks like? You don’t.  To those who say that they have never had a symptom of HIV; you can have HIV with no symptoms.  MOST people who contract HIV have NO symptoms.  It can take 7-10 years for symptoms of HIV to develop after you have been infected.  By this time your immune system will have become so compromised and an AIDS diagnosis will be very likely.
In the US 1 in 4 of us do not know our HIV status and of the 50,000 new infections, half this number is caused by people who do not know their status. Why is it that people do not know their status? Is it fear, is it that we are afraid that someone will find out, that I will be banished from society and family, it’s the stigma of having HIV isn’t it? For most this is the reason - stigma.  Or, maybe it is that you just don’t care enough about or love yourself enough to want to know?  Maybe you are caught up in a drug addiction, and on a path to self-destruction, and the last thing from your mind is getting tested for HIV. do know, and choose not to disclose.
Whether you feel you are at no risk, low risk, or high risk. It’s important to know your status.  To those who have had “what if” moments, and worry that you might have been infected with HIV;  but take no action. Now is the time.  Inaction and silence could = death, and with today’s medicine you do not have to die from HIV and can go on living a very healthy and productive long life.
In many states Doctors are required by law to ask if you would like to have an HIV test, I know here in NY that is the case.  The next time you are asked by your doctor if you would like an HIV test, say yes. Or, find a test location below, or order an FDA approved in-home test kit that you can purchase online, or over the counter at your pharmacy.  Do not belay your fears any longer, and know your status.  My hope for you is that your test will turn out negative, but if it does not, do not hide away from the World and isolate there are NUMEROUS resources  and a ton of support to help you, so that you do not have to suffer in silence.
As someone who tested positive one year ago for HIV AND Hepatits C, it’s been my mission to talk about HIV/HEP C, educate, and get others talking, and tested.  HIV is NOT a myth and NOBODY is immune to it.
Kevin Maloney
Twitter @RiseUpToHIV

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