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Doctors' Notes

5 Reasons To Get Tested For HIV Today

Research suggests that a shot may someday give an alternative to the daily pills that some people take now to cut their risk of getting HIV.
Credit: Thinkstock

Welcome to Doctors’ Notes, our newest contribution from Urban Health correspondents and husband and wife physicians Dr. Rob and Dr. Karla Robinson.  The dynamic duo will be fielding questions about health, as it relates to African Americans.  Please feel free to send them questions via digitalpitches@ebony.comWe promise to keep it anonymous. 

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Friday, June 27 is National HIV Testing Day!  This is the perfect time each year to remind ourselves of the impact of HIV in our community and the importance of testing.

With HIV still as prevalent today as it was when it first became a household name in the late 1980s, let’s make sure we are doing all we can as a community to prevent the spread of HIV.

If you haven’t been tested for HIV this year, here are five good reasons why you should:

#1.  YOU are most at risk.  The fact of the matter is that the Black community continues to lead the rate of new HIV infections.  In fact, 44 percent of all new HIV infections are in Blacks.  That’s almost half!  Of new infections in the Black community, Black men make up 70 percent of those cases, with Black women making up the remaining 30 person.  This means that YOU are not exempt from the potential effects of HIV and should definitely know your status.

#2.  What you don’t know CAN hurt you.  Knowing your status could help save your life in more ways than one.  An estimated 1 out every 5 people living with HIV have no idea that they have the disease.  That’s why HIV testing is so crucial.  While fear and the feeling that “I’d rather not know,” might be preventing some from being tested, the truth of the matter is that there have been many advances in medical technology and the treatment of HIV/AIDS, and now people are living relatively normal lives with HIV when they are being treated. Unfortunately, of those that have HIV, only about 30 percent of them are receiving the care they need to manage the disease, keep the virus under control, and decrease the transmission of the disease.

#3.  HIV can be asymptomatic in its early stages.  It is impossible to tell if someone has HIV just by looking at them.  That means it’s impossible to know if YOU have it.  Unlike other diseases that may be predominantly sexually transmitted, HIV has very few symptoms until the virus has progressed to the advanced stage of AIDS.  Regular HIV screening can help you know if you’ve ever been exposed to the virus.

#4.  You owe it to yourself.  Just as you invest in your health in other ways by exercising, diet control, weight management and blood pressure treatment, you owe it to yourself to invest in regular HIV screenings.  Why not ensure that you are healthy in every way? HIV can affect and infect anyone regardless of race, gender, marital status, religious affiliation, and socioeconomic status.

#5.  It’s quick and easy.  HIV testing is simpler than ever now.  With the availability of free testing, rapid testing, and even at-home testing that can yield results in as little as 20 minutes, there’s no excuse NOT to know your status.  Don’t miss out on an easy opportunity to make sure you are as healthy as possible.

Try this useful tool if you need help finding a testing site near you:

It’s a health thing…we’ve got to understand!

About the Doctors:

Dr. Karla and Dr. Rob are the founders of Urban Housecall, a multimedia health and wellness resource, and also hosts of the Urban Housecall Radio Show.  For more from the doctors, visit their website at www.urbanhousecall.com, like them on Facebook, and follow them on Twitter @urbanhousecall!