Ignorance is not bliss

Today is National HIV Testing Day. Get tested!

by Mary Turner
HIV/AIDS Health Columnist

Do you remember being a typical kid doing typical kid things that your parents didn’t want you to do? And when they got fed up with your antics, they’d say, “You’d better stop that or else!”

That “or else” thing was really wicked. I can remember lying awake at night imagining all the things “or else” could be. For many of us, imagining what might happen was a lot worse than the reality.

I suppose there are parents or grandparents who could and would exact punishments on us that are worse than the things our fears do to us, but hopefully not many. Besides, we’re all grown up now and we shouldn’t be inflicting those old fears, the fear of the unknown, on ourselves.

Ignorance is not bliss, especially when it comes to knowing your HIV status. Getting tested can be scary because you don’t know the outcome until after you’ve tested. However, there are lots of good reasons to face your fears and get that test done:

1. You can live long and prosper. Knowing that you’re HIV- can help you stay on track with your safer sex practices so that you’re less likely to contract the virus. Knowing that you’re positive means that you can get treatment more quickly and establish a lifestyle that will keep you around for years to come.

2. You have loved ones. Knowing your status helps protect them and can help them support you.

3. You can be a role model and support system for friends. Someone you care about may be terrified to get tested, but, as they say, there’s safety in numbers. Going to get tested together is less scary than going alone.

4. You don’t know your status, but don’t feel too guilty about that. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), about one in eight Americans don’t know. That’s a lot of people potentially spreading a highly contractible virus around. Maybe you’ve heard that when you have sex with someone, you’re also having sex with everyone that they had sex with. That’s too much fun for me to contemplate, but it’s an excellent reason to know your status so you can protect yourself and others.

5. Maybe you’ve decided you want to start PrEP. Well, you have to be HIV- to do that, so get tested so you’ll know your options.

6. The love of your life is HIV+.

7. You think you might be HIV+.

8. You’re usually very responsible in keeping your risk of infection low, but something hinky has happened recently.

9. Knowing your status supports healthy relationships.

10. You’re worth it!

Copyright 2017 The Gayly – June 27, 2017 @ 10:30 a.m.