June 27th is National HIV Testing Day. Do yourself a favor and get tested at Planned Parenthood where rapid HIV tests make it possible for patients to learn their results in ten minutes.
I wanted to see for myself just how easy this process is, and I got tested last week at Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts Boston health center.. Prior to last week, my experience with HIV testing dated back thirteen years to when I first met my husband. Back then, someone seeking the HIV test would have their blood drawn and then have to wait a week to hear the results. One long, agonizing week. But one finger prick later, I can definitively say that the test was quick, easily accessible, pain-free and confidential.
While advances in medical technology have changed the way we can be tested for HIV, the importance of getting tested has not changed. According to state data, 19,179 people in Massachusetts were living with HIV/AIDS diagnoses at the end of 2010. That statistic does not include those people who don’t know they are HIV positive. The state estimates that 21 percent of people living with the HIV infection are unaware of their status and are unknowingly spreading the virus and not getting the treatments they need to reduce the likelihood of transmitting the virus to others.
The Center for Disease Control recommends that HIV screening be routine for adults, adolescents and pregnant women. That’s why I urge anyone and everyone who is sexually active to respond to the national challenge: “Take the Test, Take Control.” You owe it to yourself, your partners, and to our community. And you can get tested for HIV at any of the seven Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts (PPLM) health centers across the state. While you can do a walk-in appointment as I did, calling ahead to make a same day appointment will minimize time spent in the waiting room.
For many people, asking for an HIV test is challenging, embarrassing and even scary. But many of these apprehensions are alleviated upon entering PPLM, where staff is committed to confidential and nonjudgmental counseling. PPLM provides young people with the information and opportunities they need to take control of their sexual and reproductive health. Knowing your HIV status and accessing the necessary support and care is part of the healthy decision-making that PPLM promotes and can help provide.
Take the test. Take control. Take yourself to Planned Parenthood.
To locate a Planned Parenthood health center near you, click here
Director of Public Affairs
Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts
June 27, 2011