I had four HIV tests by the time I was 19. Though I wouldn't have sex with a guy for another two years, I’d gotten this idea in my head that by virtue of being gay, it was a matter of time before I developed AIDS. That was the message delivered to me at a young age, given the media coverage of the time. It was 1994.
I don’t think there was ever a time in my life that my sexuality, the very core of my being, was not associated with HIV. This is why I became an activist for people living with the virus (at the time, it was universally called AIDS) — partly to face my own fears, and partly because it was a way to understand myself in relationship to the disease that had become a huge part of my life.
I continue to get tested at three month intervals (for HIV as well as other STIs), even though I rock it on the mild moreso than wild side these days. Still, I am always flummoxed when talking to younger sexually active people who tell me they've never been tested.
June 27 is National HIV Testing Day, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) “about one in seven people in the United States who are infected with HIV don’t know they have it. Knowing one’s HIV status provides powerful information. People who test positive for HIV can take medicines to keep them healthy and to greatly reduce their chance of passing HIV to others. But the only way to know for sure if someone has HIV is to get tested.”
Do yourself a favor. Get tested!