2014 National HIV Testing Day – Take the Test, Take Control

Across the country thousands will “Take the Test, Take Control” of their lives on National HIV Testing Day June 27.

Former LA Clipper’s owner Donald Sterling brought renewed discussion about stigma and judgments toward people affected by HIV with his comments regarding famed basketball legend Magic Johnson’s positive HIV status. Sterling stated that Johnson should be “ashamed of himself” for having HIV and suggested he was a terrible role model for children.

Contrary to Sterling’s remarks, Magic Johnson has been living with HIV for more than 23 years, both modeling a full life, one filled with generosity, business acumen, advocacy, and leadership; and the advances in medical care for those with HIV. HIV Testing increased in major cities by 60% in 1991 after Magic revealed his status. Let’s let Sterling’s remarks and Magic Johnson’s remarkableness inspire us to rebel against the stigma surrounding HIV and increase by 60% once again the level of HIV testing.

Nearly 200,000 HIV infected persons do not know their status. Delays in knowing this increases the spread of HIV because they may not be taking steps (using condoms!) to protect partners and decreases the ability to effectively treat the virus because starting treatment early helps keep the virus under control and can prevent the heart, kidney and neurological harm that occurs in patients with poorly controlled HIV infection. HIV is the virus that causes AIDS and leads to around 16,000 deaths in the United States each year.

By taking the HIV test on National HIV Testing Day you can be part of the movement to show Donald Sterling and those that agree with him how wrong they are. There is no shame in getting tested – and truth be told, much benefit for you and your sexual partners. HIV is a virus that can attack anyone and we are all very much at risk. Viruses do not make moral judgments and choose their victims. Getting tested is a way to show you care about yourself and your partner. Getting tested, encouraging others to get tested, supporting those who test positive, and practicing prevention are great ways to be a role model.

Testing is easy. Results come quickly. Counselors can answer your questions and help you know how to make choices to keep you healthy. Testing is also confidential. So, why not?

Talk about HIV. Challenge stigma. Encourage friends and family to get tested. Take the test and take control!

Beth Reilly, MPH
Red Ribbon Project Board Member

Where can I get tested?

In Eagle County free testing will be available Friday, June 27th from 10-5 at Colorado Mountain College in Edwards and Saturday, June 28th 9-5 at the Vail Valley Medical Center. Eagle County’s Red Ribbon Project will be coordinating the testing days which will include HIV testing and confidential counseling regarding prevention.

The Colorado AIDS Project also has info about many testing locations.