Category: HIV / AIDS Articles
December 12, 2013
I never knew that I had an interest in HIV/AIDS awareness and informing my community until my friend, Julian, and I went to get tested. If I could briefly remind and reminisce on that moment, we went to get tested on a Friday afternoon, most of the time campus is pretty deserted on Fridays, as it was on this day. We went into the room where the testing was being provided, and I could literally count on one and a half hands how many people I saw coming to get tested. Though I was still caught up in my own nerves, I was saddened and actually amazed that that room was not overflowing of people. To this day, I am still unable to fully understand why it wasn’t full of people. From that day, I decided that it is my goal to encourage people to get tested and to care about their sexual health.
I decided to go with one of my close friends here on campus but it’s absolutely nothing wrong with taking someone you don’t know that well; your suitemate, a co-worker, or even a study buddy. Take who makes you feel comfortable and if that’s someone you just know in passing, do it. It isn’t so much about whom you take with you but actually going and having that moral support. In my opinion, taking someone with you to go get tested alleviates the stress that comes with the whole situation. You have someone with you that shares some of the exact same feelings, from excited to scared and from nervous to even anxious. It’s ok to be scared momentarily together but in the end you’ll be aware of your status together.
Going with someone helps combat the stigma behind going to get tested for HIV and other STDs. You’re showing yourself and your testing buddy that it’s perfectly fine and normal to get tested. Go get tested. Break the walls of this stigma with a testing buddy.
December 05, 2013
This month makes six months that I’ve been onboard the myHealthImpact team. Thus far, it has been a very enjoyable experience and it truly feels like a family. MyHealthImpact will be attending the Red Pump Project. This project raises awareness regarding HIV/AIDS and its impact on females. Red Pump’s mission is to “promote HIV prevention through education, and open dialogue about the issues that surround sexual and reproductive health”.
While the color red is associated with energy, confidence, action and vitality, this aligns with The Red Pumps concept of empowerment for women. On the road to Red Pump, the myHealthImpact team will document our journey and experiences. With the mixture of personalities that are currently on the team, I know that we are bound to have a memorable time. Our team will be actively involved in the Red Pump event, so be on the look out for our videos, tweets, pics and blogs. Though this event is geared around women, the HIV/AIDS epidemic has affected both genders tremendously. As a male. I do believe that I will be able to benefit from attending this event on behalf of myHealthImpact. Increasing your knowledge base is always a positive aspect to one’s role in developing as an individual.
Spreading the information to others not only help those who don’t know but can potentially save lives. Preparation for this event ties into this month’s focus, which is HIV Awareness and World AIDS Day (December 1). The spreading of diseases can be prevented, and more events can be hosted to inform the community of the disease. This event is going to be amazing, and I’m looking forward to it. Be on the lookout for the video footage and other information pertaining to myHealthImpact’s involvement with the Red Pump Project.
November 03, 2013
Did you know that in-home HIV testing was possible and readily available to the public, inexpensively? Well it is, with OraQuick. I’ve noticed (upon my own personal observation) many people are ashamed and just don’t want to be seen getting tested. OraQuick completely solves that issue.
OraQuick is an in-home testing mechanism testing for HIV-1 and HIV-2. Being that it’s in-home, you don’t have to worry about confidentiality or anonymity being broken. The only person/people you’d have to worry about knowing your results are you, yourself…and well just you.
A couple of facts via www.oraquick.com concerning OraQuick:
- OraQuick is the first FDA-approved oral swab in-home test
- This is based on the same HIV test that healthcare professionals have used since 2004
- You get results in 20 minutes
- Being that this is an oral test, no blood is involved. You just swipe you gums
- Your test kit includes: step-by-step directions, an oral swab test stick and tube with solution, information booklets on HIV and testing, and package insert containing information about the test
You can purchase your OraQuick kit on its website as well as at some of your local health supply stores such as Rite Aid, CVS, Walgreens and even Wal-Mart as well as Kroger. Purchasing via the OraQuick website, it’s $39.99 (not including shipping and handling). Purchasing at Rite Aid would run you about $29.99.
I stress the importance of getting tested because it’s important and at that readily available. I feel as though it’s no excuse to have not been tested especially if you haven’t ever or your test results are invalid. College organizations are offering FREE testing, many clinics are offering FREE testing, and if you don’t want to do either, you can do so right in your own home for a fee that’s incomparable to knowing your status.
October 13, 2013
My very good friend Julian and I, went to an on-campus HIV/STD free testing event (9/27/13). Upon walking into the room, we both just knew it would have been a packed room of individuals curious of their status. Boy, were we wrong. We could literally count on just two hands how many people were in there just during the time span we were there, which was almost an hour. I can only speak for myself but I was completely disappointed in the turn out. Why the stigma with getting HIV tested? Why weren’t a huge number of individuals there?
Granted, I have no idea how well this event was advertised but in the event that some entity is offering FREE testing, I just feel as though people should come out in numbers. I don’t know about you but I choose free over $60+ any day. Ok but back to my question, why the stigma? Julian and I discussed going to get tested prior to actually going and for some reason hesitated in doing so. I will be the first to admit, that at first, I was really scared. Scared to know. Scared to have to deal with. I honestly and truly believe that along with the previous listed, people just don’t want to be seen getting tested, but why not??? Please be reminded that this is just my opinion, but I respect an individual for knowing their status versus playing Russian roulette with not only their life and health but with others as well.
By: Julian Cobb
It still blows my mind that people would pass up an opportunity to get tested for FREE. This generation can stay in tune with the latest music or even spend time scrolling down their Instagram timeline but can’t take a few minutes to partake in something that can dramatically impact their lives. I understand that people may feel intimidated or just scared of not going because they fear what the results might say. I was always taught that fear is nothing but false- evidence- appearing- real. Going to get tested with a friend, just like I did with Keiara, is a good way to ease that anxiety. It is better to know for yourself than to keep wondering “what if”. Too often people are concerned about what others think of them. Quite frankly, knowing that you got tested might encourage someone else to do the same. Never underestimate the power that resides within you because I guarantee that somebody is watching. The question is what do you want them to see? You taking the initiative to get tested or being passive because of fear? Fear is only what you make it. You have control over your thoughts so choose to be positive and know your status.
Ever since we went to get tested, we’ve truly been playing the waiting game but it has been on my heart and mind that people really hate to talk about HIV/STDs, really don’t want to get tested out of sheer fear. We encourage and challenge you to get tested, know your status, and then encourage others to do the same. I’m very glad that I…we went to get tested. We’re friends. We hold each other accountable.
April 20, 2013
By the time I was 16, I was already aware of what condoms were, how they were used and who used them. As a 20 -year-old graduating college senior, I look back on all I know about HIV. In order to address the discussion of HIV among teens, we must also talk about the sex discussion first because they are related. For one thing, I know that my parents had little to do with the discussion about sexually transmitted diseases. A curious kid at 16, I was also an avid ‘TV-watcher”. Like most of my African-American peers, we always discussed how tv shows like Flavor-of-Love, the Real World and Desperate Housewives influenced us on our view of sex. Because HIV is a sexually transmitted disease, there is much to be said about the virus. My peers and I also know that TV, as a form of mass media sends messages to teens all across the world. Positive messages. Negative messages, perpetuating stereotypes and false information are what is shown to people everyday. Mass media, as defined by sociology dictionary is forms of communication designed to reach a vast audience without any personal contact between the senders and receivers. Examples would include newspapers, magazines, video recordings, radio and television.
As a broadcast journalism major, I was taught that journalism, in lieu of mass media is the fourth estate. The first three estates being the Legislative, Executive and Judicial branch of the government. We are the gatekeepers of information. When I think of a gatekeeper of information, I think of a safeguard. A safeguard is someone who guards, protects and sensors something in a positive or negative way. During my teenage years, the only time I saw HIV awareness or discussion about HIV on TV was during World Aids Day and on December 1st, which is national HIV testing day. The media has more messages of free sex, sex with multiple sex partners and having sex with the absence of love, commitment or respect. There are more reality shows and sitcoms about those topics than shows that address safe sex, monogamy or abstinence. This poses as a threat to the teenage discussion of HIV because they are receive mixed messages that can lead to ignorance. For instance, some teens believe AIDS is the same as HIV, which is false. I’ve also witnessed a discussion at the university level where a student said, “ I need to take an AIDS test”, which is highly inaccurate. Where does the inaccuracy come from, one might add? I am reminded of the huge responsibility TV plays in the discussion of HIV among teenagers. To me, there is no discussion of HIV. I do not feel that the TV industry does a good job of informing the public of the causes and symptoms of HIV/AIDS. For one, I believe that many teens do not know the difference between HIV and AIDS, and that discussion is where the media, as a fourth estate should start.
February 12, 2013
A study conducted by researchers at the University of Chicago found that only 60% of OBGYN’s ask questions about their patient’s sexual activities sex during medical visits. They also found that many OBGYN’s knew very little about their patients’ sexual behavior, sexual satisfaction and even sexual orientation.
Why are women not discussing their sexual lives with their physicians? According to the researchers, the reasons may be that 1) physicians do not ask and 2) patients do not bring their sexual activities up as points of concern.
Discussing sexual health with your physician is important, because changes in sexual functioning or behaviors can help the doctor identify other health problems that could escalate if left diagnosed and untreated. For example. HIV/ AIDS tests are also not always routinely given to all women and when a doctor knows about your sexual health, they may know when to recommend you take one. This is particularly important as rates of HIV infection among African American and Hispanics women are much higher than those found in white women. Sixty-four percent of women with HIV are Black. And HIV infection is among the top 10 leading causes of death for Black females.
Some tips to help you have discussions about your sex life with your doctor are.
- Find a doctor you can trust. Many women settle for the provider that is given to them by their insurance company, but finding a good doctor is sometimes like dating. You must think of what characteristics and work practices you need in a provider that will compliment your needs. If you cannot trust you doctor, you might not feel comfortable discussing everything with your doctor and you may be putting your health at risk. If one relationship is not working, find a new one.
- Do not limit your discussions of sexual behavior to your OBGYN, you might find that you are more comfortable talking about your sex life with your primary care doctor. You might also feel more comfortable discussing some concerns with a therapist or psychological professional. For example, concerns such as coping with sexual abuse, suspecting that your long-term partner is unfaithful, becoming dissatisfied with sex or having multiple simultaneous sexual partners can all affect your health. For each of the above concerns, your health care provider or team can provide support and recommend appropriate treatments.
- Keep track of your sexual behavior, functioning and questions. Bringing a record of concerns related to your sexual health to your physician can help start the conversation and may help your diagnosis better treat you. Remember, it is OK to ask that certain types of information remain conversational and not become parts of the medical record.
- Seek care and stay up to date with routine care activities. If you have a long-term relationship with the same care provider, it will be easier to discuss your sex life and it will be easier for that provider to identify changes in your sexual behavior and find solutions to help you.
Sobecki JN, Curlin FA, Rasinski KA, Lindau ST. What We Don't Talk about When We Don't Talk about Sex1: Results of a National Survey of U.S. Obstetrician/Gynecologists. The Journal of Sexual Medicine. 2012;9(5):1285-94.
Dr. Heather Watts, a liaison member to ACOG's Committee on Health Care for Underserved Women
Most women are infected with HIV through heterosexual sex. Some women become infected because they may be unaware of a male partner’s risk factors for HIV infection or have a lack of HIV knowledge and lower perception of risk. Relationship dynamics also play a role. For example, some women may not insist on condom use because they fear that their partner will physically abuse or leave them. (source: http://www.cdc.gov)
January 30, 2013
What can I really do? The problem of HIV and health awareness in general is one that always felt way too large for one person, especially myself to conquer. I never really talked with my parents about it, because I didn’t want them to think I was overly sexually active, and that I was worried about it. That and the fact that in many households the topics of sex and STD’s are still taboo, often swept under the rug.
Yeah I got tested at yearly awareness drives, but never really felt I was making a difference. However, midway through my senior year I was introduced to the My Health Impact Network, and the project they undertook. I had always felt too small to tackle such a large issue, but here were a group of my peers finding a way to make a serious impact on their community. They were using what they knew, and the skills they had to get people talking, get people caring, and showing the way get involved in the fight.
Once I became an official member of the team it all started to make sense to me. The goal wasn’t to invent the cure for HIV, they knew that was beyond their means, but what they could do was engage the followers, spread the word about breakthroughs. We strive to break through the taboo and create a network of people to support and challenge one another, not just about HIV, but about all health related issues.
We use social media, and recently mobile devices to keep people engaged and in the know. “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” That phrase has had new meaning to me in the past few months. I have been challenged to use whatever skills I have to make an imprint on my generation. So I extend that challenge you, not to try to do it all alone, but to use your voice, your skills and your experiences to make an impact.
What can you do? Only YOU know the true answer to that.
January 15, 2013
A 2012 survey of 15-24 year olds conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that three in four respondent viewed hIV/AIDS as a serious issue for their generation. However, for young people of color, HIV/AIDS is seen as significantly more important. Perhaps this is because these young people of color are from communities that have been disproportionately affected by this disease. By race, Blacks face the most severe HIV burden. According to the CDC, Blacks represent approximately 14% of the U.S. population, but they accounted for almost half (46%) of people living with HIV in the U.S. in 2008, as well as an estimated 44% of new infections in 2009. Latinos represent 16% of the population but accounted for an estimated 17% of people living with HIV in 2008 and 20% of new infections in 2009. For both groups, these rates have been stable since the 1990s, according to the CDC.
While 32% of whites said that this was a "very serious" issue for their generation, nearly twice as many Black (62%) and Latino (61%) youths viewed HIV/AIDS as "very serious". Black and Latino respondents stated that HIV/AIDS is a deeply personal and societal concern. Black youths say that they are "very concerned" (49%) or at least "somewhat concerned" (21%) personally about HIV/AIDS. Latinos also reported high levels of concern with 32% saying they are "very concerned" and 16% saying they are "somewhat concerned." In comparison, only 35% of whites expressed personal concern (17% "very" and 18% "somewhat").
Youths generally agree that it is possible for people with HIV to live healthy and productive lives (25% "strongly agree" and 54% "somewhat agree"). However, stigma persists as a barrier to be overcome with a third say that there is still "a lot" of stigma around HIV/AIDS. Youth also seek to acquire more knowledge about this disease, including basic facts like how to prevent the spread of HIV (36%), who should get tested (35%), and how to talk to you partner about getting tested (34%) and prevention (27%).
Finally, young people remain optimistic about ending AIDS in their lifetime (74%). For Black youths, in particular, there is a desire to have a role in helping to eradicate HIV/AIDS, with 25% saying they would play a major role (25%) or at least some role (45%). My Health Impact Network welcomes youths seeking to educate peers about HIV prevention.
Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 2012, HIV/AIDS 101: US Statistics, last accessed January 15, 2013
Kaiser Family Foundation, 2012, AIDS is a Deeply Personal as swell as Societal Concern for Young Americans of Color, last accessed January 15, 2013 from
December 03, 2012
On Saturday, December 1, 2012, the @myHealthImpact team celebrated World's AIDS Day by participating in the 4th Annual Red Pump/Red Tie Affair in Charlotte, NC. The event was a huge success that included a silent auction and fashion show to raise awareness about the impact of HIV/AIDS on women and girls. Everyone, near and far stepped out and showed off their favorite red accessories: pumps, bow ties, cuff links, earrings, belts, etc. It was truly amazing to see people of all cultures come together and support the push for an AIDS Free Generation.
With so many displays of the color red, immediately my mind flashed the question, "What ever happened to PRODUCT (RED)?" It was only six years ago when I saw the first Apple commercial promoting a (RED) iPod Nano, that I learned about the charity's global fight against AIDS. Soon after, other brands such as The Coco-Cola Company, Nike, Starbucks, and the American Express would join U2 frontman and activist, Bono, to sell (RED) products.
Now that I am also an HIV Activist, I would like to continue The (RED) Manifesto, which is to be part of the organization that delivers an AIDS Free Generation.
"We all have tremendous power. What we choose to do or buy, can affect someone's life on the other side of the world. When you do the (RED) thing, a (RED) partner will give up some of its profits to fight AIDS. It's as simple as that. (JoinRED)."
LEAVE A COMMENT: What are your favorite (RED) products!?
September 02, 2012
I went to the doctors office a couple weeks ago with nasal congestion, and she gave me a pat on the back and recommended some Sudafed. Then she asked, "Is there anything else I can do?" I thought for a second and responded, "Yes, I'd like an HIV test."
Motivated by my team's research and the myHealthImpact project, I got a blood sample taken from my arm to be tested for HIV. The process was pretty simple, and I realized that the older I get the less the interveinal needles hurt. The nurse sterilized my skin with a wipe, inserted the needle and 20 seconds later she said "I'll call you with the results." Wow… That was the easy part.
Now in the next 10 days my life was hanging in the balance; I'm waiting on a call that can change my life, or put my mind at ease about the state of my body. My mind would wander to some of the sexual rendezvous from my early college years and my confidence began to waiver. During that nerve-racking week, I realized that the change in my life occurs during those moments of intimacy more than when I receive these results. I decided that regardless of the status in the end, I'm not looking forward to being this uncertain any time soon.
Receiving my results was a moment of relief, when I knew for sure that I was HIV negative. It strengthened my ability to abstain from having sex, and allowed me to be grateful for everything I have been through over the years. Now that I know better, I can do better.
I finally understand why some people may not want to get tested, but I must also implore my peers and you, the reader to get tested when you have the chance. The knowledge is key to your survival, and that information can undoubtedly be life-changing.
In Partnership with: Poole College of Management, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, National Science Foundation, Penn State
Take Action, Get Tested: Find Your Local Testing Center Why Get Tested?
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