One in a weekly series about the Black AIDS Institute's Greater Than AIDS ambassadors, who are using their VIP status in Black America to increase awareness of HIV/AIDS and HIV testing and treatment.
Listen to the doctor! The only way to be certain of your HIV status is to get tested. And the benefits always outweigh the risks--especially if you're pregnant, says Lisa Masterson, M.D., a board-certified ob-gyn and an Emmy-nominated co-host of the award-winning talk show The Doctors.
Through her charity, Maternal Fetal Care International, Dr. Masterson travels to poor regions around the world to help save the lives of pregnant women and improve the standards of their health care. "One of the things in going to African countries is to take medications, because one of the big problems is transmitting HIV from mother to child," says Dr. Masterson. "But it's something that, as physicians, we address every day here in the U.S."
If you're pregnant and test positive for HIV, appropriate treatment can reduce your risk of transmitting the disease to your baby. Without treatment, HIV-positive women have about a 1-in-4 chance of infecting their baby during pregnancy or delivery, according to studies. Having shows like The Doctors, Dr. Masterson says, is important in reaching women who might not otherwise seek medical attention.
"The more they watch these shows, it decreases the fear about going to the doctor, about getting tested, and the more we can raise awareness and disseminate information," she says. "And that's why we, as doctors, do [these kinds of programs]."
Janice Rhoshalle Littlejohn is a Los Angeles-based freelance journalist, author and documentary filmmaker.