Knowing your status is importantPublished 8:34pm Friday, November 29, 2013
I would rather just die with it instead of knowing is the response Cedric Wherry, the Selma AIDS Information and Referral education specialist for HIV and AIDS, often receives when asking people if they would like to be tested for HIV.
That chilling statement has stayed with me since the moment it left Wherry’s lips during our interview. It says so much about the power of the stigma associated with HIV. It is a good example of how damaging ignorance can be.
More than 1.1 million people in the U.S. are living with the HIV infection, and almost one in five are unaware of their infection, according to AIDS.gov.
Although the stigma associated with HIV is worldwide, it can still be reduced and possibly eliminated by educating ourselves about the truth about HIV.
I think it is safe to say that the biggest fear associated with getting tested for HIV is getting diagnosed with the virus, which, for some, translates into a death sentence.
That huge misconception can be shattered if more people would become aware that the disease won’t lead to death, if treated.
It’s important for people to understand that they are harming themselves by not finding out, because they don’t receive the treatment they need to fight the virus. As time has progressed, we have become more equipped with the proper methods of managing the disease.
Many scientific and technological advances have made HIV a chronic manageable disease, according to AIDS.gov. Their website states that people can continue to lead healthy, happy and productive lives following their diagnosis.
People also avoid getting tested, because they do not want to face the discrimination that people with HIV face.
That is understandable considering the way people have been ostracized and belittled, but that reason should not keep people from getting tested.
Many people are aware that the disease is infectious, but do not fully understand how it is spread.
Several treat people differently, because of HIV, not knowing that it takes more than a handshake or hug to contract the disease.
In reality, HIV is commonly spread by having sex, sharing needles, or through pregnancy, labor, birth, or breastfeeding when the mother is infected, according to womenshealth.gov.
Not only do people with HIV face discrimination, but they also face judgment. I find that to be the most disturbing reason that people don’t get tested.
People that know their status should be celebrated. They did what several cannot bring their selves to do.
Those people have done what they needed to be done to ensure that they do no unknowingly spread HIV.
It would be ideal if everyone were to come together and make a joint effort to spread knowledge about the truth on HIV. Taking on that responsibility can lead to more people taking HIV test, which allows people to know their status and helps stop the spread of this widespread virus.