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Dr. Ross Says ‘Know Your HIV Status’
In a recent one-on-one, she shared why she teamed up with OraQuick, the first in-home rapid HIV test, to spread the word about testing and knowing your status.
The goal is to remove the stigma attached to HIV testing. “We must get out of the mindset that HIV testing must only happen in a doctor’s office.”
Dr. Ross says its important to know your HIV status for many reasons, whether its to manage your health, protect a partner, or even for your family and those who care about you.
“Too many people don’t know they have HIV. In the United States, nearly 1.1 million people are living with HIV, and almost one in five don’t know they are infected. Getting tested is the first step to finding out if you have HIV. If you have HIV, getting medical care and taking medicines regularly helps you live a longer, healthier life and also lowers the chances of passing HIV on to others.”
There continues to be an alarming rate of HIV infection among African Americans, one theory from Dr. Ross.
“I’m speaking as an African American about my fellow African Americans and I think we have some issues with delaying gratification. Its something we struggle with, when it comes to finances, sexual behavior, and other things. I struggle with it, my family struggles with it. We sometimes need to think about taking a pleasure pause, ask questions, and plan better.”
It’s estimated 1 in 16 black men and 1 in 32 black women will be diagnosed with HIV in their lifetime.
In her hometown medical practice of Gary, IN and beyond, Dr. Ross says she spends a lot of time teaching risk stratification, reinforcing the specific HIV risk behaviors people should know about and reduce or avoid.
“I talk about the riskiest and least riskiest behaviors so people can make informed choices about what they are and are not willing to expose themselves too.”
The arrival of pre-exposure prophylaxis or PrEP, is a way for people who do not have HIV but who are at substantial risk of getting it to prevent HIV infection by taking a pill every day. The debate over cost, access, and adherence is widespread.
National HIV Testing Day is June 27th, is an annual observance day, the 2014 theme is “Take the test and take control”.
Walker Tisdale III, MPH, MA is the Executive Editor and Founder of Healthyblackmen.org and the Health Institute for Men in Atlanta, GA.