|by Sal Seeley LCSW|
|One Day, 20 PeopleHIV Testing Day Challenge.
20 people, one day, and 20 minutes of your time. This is the challenge for this year's National HIV Testing and Counseling day. We want 20 people to get tested for HIV on June 27. Testing day is a way to encourage individuals to know their HIV status. Having a test takes away the anxiety of not knowing.
From start to finish, an HIV test takes only about 20 minutes. You come in and give me some info about yourself, we talk about the test, and then I take a few drops of blood from your finger. While it's in a developer, we talkso you don't get off the hook that easily. During the wait, we talk about risk reduction and safe sex. It's not a sermon; we talk about tools so you can lead a healthy, happy and safe sex life.
Currently, one of the biggest problems facing the US is people who are HIV+ and don't know iteither because they don't get tested regularly or they don't think they are at risk. Then there are those that would rather live in denial or who are just too scared to deal with the realities of being diagnosed with HIV. Many men and women think they could be HIV+ but have chosen not to testoften making that decision based on incorrect information about HIV, or fear about what happens to you once you test positive. If you have HIV, all the evidence suggests that you are better off knowing itand the sooner you test, the better. Knowing that you are HIV negative allows you to make informed decisions about the sex you have.
Obviously a negative result offers you no guarantees for the future. So whatever the result of the test, you need to think carefully about the sex that you have and avoid sharing needles and other drug injecting equipment. Testing is free and confidential and painlessit's only a little finger prick.
If we get a positive result then we'll do more tests to be sure, but the basic test couldn't be easier. The test is 99% accurate for testing for antibodies! I like those odds.
One thing that I must caution about, however, is that while the test is 99% accurate for testing for the presence of antibodies, it does not mean that you can bring your best bud to see me and then go off and try to make baby rabbits without any protection. The window of infection is still there. Sometimes it can take three months for your body to develop antibodies so you might still have been infected. You can't make a mistake today and get an accurate test tomorrow, nor is a negative result a license to go and play without your rubbersbut neither were the old tests. This is a better tool that gives us needed information with less pain and aggravation. It doesn't give you permission to behave irresponsibly.Be part of our challenge on June 27th. If you test that day, you will get a coupon for a free chicken salad sandwich from Lori's Cafe in the CAMP Rehoboth courtyard. Protect yourself and protect your partners. Get tested during this year's National HIV Testing Day. See page 81 for details.
Sal Seeley is Program Director of CAMPsafe, an HIV/AIDS program funded through a contract with the Delaware Division of Public Health. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Confidential HIV testing is available at CAMP Rehoboth. Call Sal at 302-227-5620 to schedule an appointment.
LETTERS From CAMP Rehoboth, Vol. 18, No. 07 June 13, 2008