Audria A. Russell, Women in Need; New York City
I always do my very best to practice what I preach as it pertains to HIV prevention and education: I talk, host and plan various forums on HIV prevention in New York State, and most important I encourage as many of my family members as possible to get HIV tested. I was extremely proud and happy when my sister shared with me that she decided to get tested for HIV after attending an HIV prevention event with me! But, interestingly, for a long time I never got tested because in my mind I was not at risk for HIV infection. However, in 2007 my excuses ended, when my friend and colleague Ann (not her real name) asked me if I was ever tested for HIV? I told her a delayed "Nooooooo, but I will get HIV tested at my next appointment with my health care provider."
My plan to later get tested was thwarted when Ann called me out; she said "Come with me -- you are the HIV program coordinator here (at my place of employment); you are going to get tested NOW!"!
So she took me by my arm and walked me to the room where the tester was sitting. Yep, this was at a health fair that I helped to organized for my employer. As I sat in the chair, I felt like my heart was pounding so LOUD and FAST that it scared me. After she gave me the swab and swabbed my cheeks, I felt like saying, "OK, let's hear it." As she was talking to me about HIV prevention, I was trying to peep behind her to see if I could read the results before she officially gave them to me. Now, talk about being nervous. She said to me, "I know what you are trying to do! But don't worry. It's negative." I was relieved and decided that I would use this opportunity to get as many people as I can to get tested.