With National HIV Testing Day (NHTD) on Saturday, June 27, many of us are preparing to get an HIV test and supporting others to do the same. Some of the men featured in Positive Spin, our digital storytelling project about living healthy with HIV, as well as our Black Voices bloggers, share how they would talk with friends before and after HIV testing.
What would you say to a friend preparing to take an HIV test on National HIV Testing Day?
“Knowing your status by taking the test is not only a brave move, but a smart one as well. No matter if you receive a positive or negative result, you are still you. Love yourself unconditionally, flaws and all, HIV- or HIV+.” – Anthony Roberts, Jr. Black Voices blogger
“I would first tell my friend who is testing for HIV to be very much prepared for either scenario of having a positive or negative test result. If negative, take the necessary precautions to keep that status. If positive, be prepared to swiftly engage into medical care. It is also very important to understand what HIV is and the health information they will receive.” – Patrick Ingram, Black Voices blogger, Positive Spin, and co-founder of thepozlife.com .
What would you tell a friend who got a positive test result?
“The day I tested positive, the counselor encouraged me with words like “We.” What he said to me was ‘We will get through this’—instantly making me feel included.
Knowing I still had the option of being part of a supportive community was crucial to my grieving process. Community nurtured me and helped me feel accepted.
So to my friend, and any listening ear after a positive diagnosis, please keep in mind that there are communities waiting to nourish you to a place of wellness.” – Ken Williams (aka Ken Like Barbie) Black Voices blogger and Positive Spin
“I would tell them to never give up on any of life’s many possibilities. You can still live a beautiful life and be secure in the fact that, regardless, you have a genuine friend in me.” – Kahlib Barton, Black Voices blogger
“First, I would tell them that they are not alone. I would encourage them to continue on with daily activities. Education and swift engagement into care is very important. Of course, referring them to resources like thepozlife.com and AIDS.gov would be a priority.” – Patrick Ingram
What would you tell a friend who got a negative test result?
“If a friend was tested and it came back negative, I would share in their moment of relief. I’d ask how long it’s been since their last sexual encounter (protected? / unprotected?) and help them establish a plan to get tested again. I’d offer my support to be there during the testing and results.” – Uriah Bell, Positive Spin
“I would challenge them to remain negative. I would remind them that a negative test result doesn’t mean they should stop testing frequently. Today I am seeing more of my black gay brothers and sisters being diagnosed with HIV.” – Patrick Ingram
What would YOU say? You can find HIV testing sites and services for yourself or others by using the AIDS.gov Locator. And you can find information and resources on HIV prevention, testing, and treatment at AIDS.gov.