If you are like me, then you know that life can be incredibly busy. From family to work and beyond, it seems like there are always more tasks than there is time. As a new mom who works full-time and helps lead The Red Pump Project’s incredible mission, my life is hectic, fast, and overwhelming. With so many items that must get done and so few hours, it is VERY easy to push self-care to the bottom of my list. Taking care of my body and mind becomes a last priority. We are all guilty of it.
However, there’s no time like the present to change that for the better.
Today is National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, a day of education, empowerment, and action. We should also use this day to take a step back and think about our health and how we take care of ourselves. We only have one life. It is worth protecting and you must be the one to do so. The best defense is a good offense and HIV testing needs to be part of your strategy.
HIV testing is free, fast, and confidential. And, almost everyone should be #DoingIt. In fact, the CDC recommends that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 get tested for HIV at least once as part of routine health care and that people with certain risk factors get tested more often. If you aren’t 100% sure of your HIV status, then you need to add “get tested” to the top of your to-do list.
Write it down NOW.
Getting tested is the first step to protecting your health. If your test reveals that you are living with HIV, it is important to get connected to a care team, which can include doctors, a case manager, peer supporters, and a specially-trained pharmacist. Available treatments are very effective; can prolong life; and may also reduce risk of transmission by reducing the amount of the virus in your body. If your test is negative, you can take action to continue to protect yourself and your status.
The great news is that new HIV diagnoses declined 40% among women from 2005 to 2014, with the greatest decline seen among African American women (42%). But, this doesn’t mean that our work is done. We must continue to talk about HIV with our loved ones and peers. If it is one thing that I have learned through my years leading Red Pump, it is to never underestimate the power of a conversation. Talking about HIV prevention, testing, and treatment is key to fighting stigma and ending this epidemic.
To find a testing site near you, call 1-800-CDC-INFO (232-4636); visit cdc.gov/DoingIt; or text your ZIP code to KNOW IT (566948).
Today’s to-do list: Know my status (check). Talk about the importance of HIV testing (check). #RocktheRedPump (check).
I know what I have to do today. Do you?
In support of Act Against AIDS and #DoingIt, its newest campaign to promote HIV testing, Red Pump co-founder Karyn Lee is participating in a NWGHAAD “blog hop” with Dr. Hazel Dean (CDC), Rae Lewis-Thornton, and Charreah Jackson (ESSENCE). Check back throughout the day for links to their posts.
Rae Lewis-Thornton: Tap Into Your Own Power
Charreah Jackson: I Trust My Man and I Still Get Tested for HIV