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Have You Done It Lately?

By Pamela K. Santos

November 21, 2010

For our World AIDS Day 2010 section, we wanted to capture the diversity of the AIDS community. So, we reached out to people across the world -- mostly those who have never written for us before -- and asked them to guest blog. These columns are written by people who are living with HIV, have been affected by HIV, or work in the field.

Pamela K. Santos

Pamela K. Santos

Yes, you read right.

Have you done it lately?

Have you gotten tested for HIV lately?

That's the topic for an upcoming Vox Pop video for MTV's Staying Alive Foundation to be filmed in association with the Asian & Pacific Islander Coalition on HIV/AIDS, Inc. (APICHA).

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The need for the dialogue about HIV testing is strong among Asian/Pacific Islanders (APIs), who are the lowest group in statistics for HIV testing for people living in NYC (based on data from the 2009 NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Community Health Survey). In 2009, 58 percent of APIs reported that they have never been tested, compared to almost 28 percent of African Americans and Hispanics. As for those who got tested "lately," only 17 percent of APIs got tested in the last 12 months, compared to 45 percent of African Americans and 41 percent of Hispanics.

Opening the dialogue among social media networks seems to be a growing trend in World AIDS Day campaigns. UNAIDS launched a recent social media campaign, "Prevention Revolution," to engage people in an online dialogue about topics in HIV prevention every Tuesday leading up to World AIDS Day. The first YouTube video uses animation and a compelling statistic of more than 7,000 new HIV infections every day to call for a "prevention revolution."

APICHA has been working on HIV prevention in the API communities of NYC for 21 years, and still they say the fight is not over. HIV/AIDS stigma and related discrimination continue to pose a problem for testing with APIs. Candidness is not a common trait in traditional Asian cultures, least of all candidness about sexual practices and health.

What about you? I'd like to hear from you, the readers, about your thoughts on HIV testing. Have you done it lately? What freaks you out about getting tested? What was the tipping point (or event) that made you decide to get tested?

If you haven't done it lately, what's stopping you? Tell us about it in the comments.




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