It is said that only those who present with symptoms for COVID-19 may be tested, but there is another disease seriously affecting our community for which testing is readily available but not utilized enough: HIV!

National HIV Testing Day is quickly approaching, but you don't have to wait until June 27th to know your status. There are a number of agencies throughout the state where you can learn your status in a matter of minutes.

We all know that HIV rates are increasing at alarming rates in some demographics, including teens (who think they're invincible), Black women, and.... believe it or not *face turning red*..... senior citizens! The sad reality of the matter is that we have the ability to change this, especially when it comes to sexual transmission. It's simply a matter of not only knowing your status but also not being sexually involved with someone whose status you don't know.

While MSM (or men who have sex with men) used to be a primary target for HIV education, attention is now being diverted to include women, as the likelihood of infection for women (especially those of African descent) is on the rise. This is largely in part because of men who have sex with men but don't consider themselves as gay. These men are least likely to take advantage of the available care so as to not have a stigma attached to themselves.

It is said that for every seven people who have HIV, one person doesn't know it. If testing is the only way to know, testing should be a regular practice for every person who is sexually active, as there are now many options for managing an HIV infection for those who test positive; and managing the infection may help minimize the risk of passing it to someone else.

For more information on these statistics and more, visit starttalkingalabama.org. To find the testing site near you and for information on HIV Prevention and Treatment, log onto AlabamaPublicHealth.gov/HIV.

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