HIV Tests: 4 Facts You NEED To Know

Blood sample for HIV test

Twenty years ago, when I would encourage many black men and women to get tested for HIV, the response I frequently got was: “What difference does it make whether I know my status or not, there’s nothing that can be done and I’ll die anyway. I just prefer not to know.”

Other people would steer away from getting tested for a totally different reason: “If I test positive for HIV and my family finds out, I’ll be kicked out of the house and living on the streets.”

Sadly, I have known far too many situations where individuals did indeed get kicked out of their homes,  lost their jobs and even became targets of physical violence simply by being HIV positive.  This illustrates just how devastating the impact of the stigma associated with an HIV diagnosis was in the past.

Now, twenty years later, we have over 30 medicines for treating HIV disease and have transformed this infection from an automatic death sentence, to a condition where a person may live close to a normal lifespan.  Stigma against HIV and softened some  as we have become better educated and HIV survival improved, but it still remains a major impediment to people getting tested and communicating their results.