At the annual progessive blogger conference known as Netroots Nation, folks at the Netroots Connect LGBT event held a panel discussion called “AIDS is not Over.” One of the attendees, ViralApartheid's Todd Heywood, reports that the group decided to help encourage HIV testing since today, June 27, is National HIV Testing Day. They ecided it would be incredibly helpful to encourage folks to get tested for HIV and to tweet, Facebook, Pinterest, or blog about their test with a picture or two with the hashtag #TestMe.
"Why? Because HIV remains a serious issue in the United States, one that is significantly underdiagnosed. There are an estimated 1.1 million Americans living with HIV, says the CDC, and 20 percent of those do not know they are infected. A person living with an undiagnosed HIV infection is 3.5 time more likely to transmit the virus. Getting diagnosed is the first step in preventing the transmission of the virus," Heywood writes. "For men who have sex with men, the undiagnosed numbers are even more stunning. One in five men who have sex with men in 21 major cities in the U.S. is infected with HIV. Of those infected, 44 percent were unaware of their infection. And in the 20 year old cohort the numbers are more stunning. Right now, according to the Office of National AIDS Policy, 10 percent of all men who have sex with men in the 20 year old cohort is infected; and it’s 20 percent for black men who have sex with men. At current transmission trends, in 30 years half of all men who have sex with men will be infected, and 70 percent of all black men who have sex with men will be infected."
HIV Plus decided to follow suit, so we'll be sharing tweets, pictures, videos and stories as they come in to us about getting testing. Heywood, too, will be sharing stories at ViralApartheid.com. Here's a photo to start you off; it's the gang at Netroots reminding you to get tested today.
Heywood reminds readers, "It is time to reignite the HIV knowledge base — but this time with facts about transmission risks, and risk reduction techniques that are scientifically proven. It also means an end to shaming of condomless sex, and an open embrace to more realistic conversation about the construction of male sexuality and intimacy. Conversations that sex positive, and affirming. Conversations that don’t create social expectations of good and bad queer sexuality — rather conversations that hold up the continuum of queer male sexuality in all its diversity."
Are you getting tested today?