You might figure that you can skip this blog post if you’re not an intravenous drug user, a sex worker or a gay man. But don’t be too hasty in clicking past here OK?
Certainly, when HIV/AIDS was first discovered in the west, the condition seemed to affect only homosexual males. That turned out to be only part of the story. These days, it is known that HIV/AIDS is a risk in heterosexual culture, too. In fact, anybody can acquire HIV/AIDS if precautions are not taken.
But don’t panic, HIV is one of the most easily preventable conditions we know. If you have a nagging suspicion that you might be infected, again, don’t panic. You can get tested.
Today is National HIV Testing Day in the USA. Now is the perfect opportunity to finally get yourself tested for the presence of the virus in your system.
You might be wondering about the risk factors for HIV/AIDS. As a refresher, here is the short list of high risk behaviors that put you at greatest risk:
1. If you have unprotected sex, you’re putting yourself in danger of infection. I’m certainly not a priggish or prudish guy, but I exercise care in this regard. It’s better to be safe than sorry, so use a new latex or polyurethane condom each time. Anal intercourse is riskier than vaginal sex. If you have more than one partner, you should be tested regularly.
2. If you have another sexually transmitted disease, a test is called for, in addition to treatment for your other condition. Open sores and infections are pathways to disease causing microbes, including HIV.
3. If you use drugs, you might get careless about taking precautions. In addition, there is a high risk of contracting HIV if needles and syringes are shared during intravenous drug use.
4. If you are an uncircumcised male, you may be at greater risk. Independent studies have shown that if you’re uncut, the risk of heterosexual transmission of HIV/AIDS is increased.
These aren’t the only factors only the riskiest ones. If you’ve obtained a medical blood transfusion, you might be at slight risk of contracting the virus. If you’ve had a medical procedure away from the country, you should ask your doctor for an HIV test, just to be on the safe side. Pregnant women should have a test, early, as a part of prenatal care of her infant.
Ask your healthcare provider for an HIV test, then get tested. If you use injectable drugs, get a yearly test. If you’re a gay or bi guy, get tested each year, too. If you don’t know where to get tested in your area check out this link: http://www.hivtest.org/ there’s a box to enter your Zip Code. Do it.
Are you a community leader or concerned citizen? It’s important that you support HIV testing availability in your area. Also advocate for provision of medical and social services to guide behavior of people most at risk of HIV and help for people living with the condition.
Be an advocate about social issues that multiply the risk of community HIV infection, including poverty and homelessness. Other factors that encourage risk taking are racism, sexism, and discrimination against LGBTQ people.
Community leaders can also support people infected with HIV by supporting housing services, job training, family planning, mental health and drug abuse services. Fight prejudice and discrimination of all sorts.
Most of all, if you’ve read this far and believe you might be at even at slight risk of HIV/AIDS infection, please get tested and play safely.
If you live in Northeast Nebraska, the Blue Jay of Happiness has this link for you: