Gay and bisexual men make up 70% of new HIV infections in the United States; communities of color and young adults are particularly hard hit. HIV testing is critical for both individual health and in the efforts to end the epidemic. When people know their HIV status, they can make healthy and informed choices about their lives, including sexual activity. For those who are HIV+, getting into medical treatment early can make a big difference in their long-term health and well-being.
You can help support people in getting an HIV test by providing an opportunity to get tested. Testing is easier than ever. Many areas have mobile HIV testing, meaning that they can come to your location and offer confidential HIV tests. You can do this as a separate event or combine it with other health services, such as blood pressure screening, during a health fair or other program.
Some reasons that it is especially helpful to have mobile testing at a community of faith include:
- It affirms the importance of HIV testing as something that sexually adults should strongly consider doing as part of their self-care.
- Some people—of all sexual orientations—feel shame about their sexuality as a result of their religious upbringings or beliefs. Providing HIV testing at a community of faith can help you affirm sexuality as a natural part of human life for many people.
- People have busy lives and may put off these important tests; bringing them to people when they are already at worship or a program makes it easier to fit them in.
- You can invite people in your neighborhood to come by for testing as well. People may be surprised to see HIV testing at a community of faith and may want to learn more about your organization as a result.
- Many people still remember the neglect or outright condemnation from religious groups early in the HIV epidemic (and in some places continuing today). Holding HIV testing or other programs for people living with HIV/AIDS at your community can help counter those negative ideas.
To set up a date for testing at your location, contact your local AIDS service organization or Department of Health. They can guide you to organizations or programs that do mobile testing.