#DoingItMyWay: National HIV Testing Day
June 27th marks National HIV Testing Day. Despite declining teen birth rates and reports that teens are having less sex, STD rates are on an unprecedented rise. The stigma often associated with HIV and STD testing is a leading factor in youths’ decision to forgo testing, despite having unprotected sexual experiences. Here at Power to Decide, we know that #TalkingIsPower. It’s imperative that trusted adults and champions jumpstart meaningful conversations about sex, love, relationships, and healthy practices—like frequent HIV/STD testing and dual protection.
During a routine check-up or gynecological visit, health care providers may or may not suggest HIV and STD screenings. It’s important that our young people feel empowered to ask for HIV and STD screening during their annual check-ups—or more frequently if necessary. Healthcare providers are also encouraged to incorporate sexual wellness as a facet of holistic wellbeing. Many clinics offer screenings available on a sliding-fee scale or free of cost, eliminating cost barriers. Our Bedsider Clinic Finder is just one of many online resources available to help young men and women to find a health care provider.
Whether it’s their first time being tested or hundredth, the anxiety of waiting for results can take a toll on anyone. The good thing about HIV screening is that most clinics and providers offer rapid testing, meaning you receive your results in 30 minutes or less. It’s completely normal to be nervous, but knowing your status gives you the power to decide your future and live your healthiest life. Despite dated misconceptions, positive HIV and STD results aren’t the end of the world! A large portion of young adults and adults are living with an STD. The good news is you’re not alone and many of these conditions are 100% treatable. HIV is completely manageable with proper treatment and people living with HIV can live long healthy, and productive lives. By using protection and getting regularly tested you can fight the stigma and build a more inclusive environment for yourself and your peers.
Test results can bring on a variety of unexpected emotions—and that’s okay. Most clinics and health care providers are equipped to help you deal with your test results and to refer you to outside counseling when necessary. Getting tested with your partner can be an experience that builds trust and compassion. This National HIV Testing Day, give yourself the power to chase your dreams and pursue your best life—get tested, know your status, and encourage those you love most to do the same.