It's funny that it took lesbians (over at Juliet and Juliette) to remind me that tomorrow... 40 minutes from now... is National HIV Testing Day!!!
That's right, folks, it is the annual event organized by the National Association of People with AIDS (NAPWA -- main site, event site) where the CDC (information from the CDC -- there are a lot of really great videos on this site) and hundreds of local organizations are encouraging you to get tested for HIV, regardless of your risk. Hell, even if you are suburban housewife with only one sex partner in your life and no history of drug use, I'll bet you have one risk factor...
It doesn't matter who it's with; if it's sex, it's still risky. A lot of people blow off risk as something other people have -- after all, I've been with my husband for years, and we only have sex with each other. Oh yea? When was your last HIV test? When was his last HIV test? Is this a monogamous relationship... are you sure? It's an awful truth of the world, but just because you are monogamous does not mean they are.
Even condoms are not 100%, as there is such a thing as "imperfect use" -- condoms breaking, not being put on properly, etc. etc. etc.
There is no such thing as safe sex, only safer sex. All sex has its risk, as even the best forms of protection cannot safeguard against everything. Herpes and warts, for example, only require skin-to-skin contact for transmission.
And, it's a sad truth, that those are the two most common STD's. It is estimated that upwards of 25-30% of people have genital herpes; most of them have just never shown a symptom.
But I digress.
The point of this blog is to let you know that tomorrow, June 27th, you should get tested. There are a host of options out there to get tested at (listed below), and some of them offer the 20-minute oral swab (there is a slight caveat on this, right now, though), some the 20-minute finger stick, and some of them the more traditional 5-7 day oral swab or venipuncture (blood draw). I have personal and professional relationships with people at each one of these agencies, and I would not be posting any of them unless I was 100% sure that you would be treated with the kind of dignity and respect that you should have when you decide to be tested.
1) STOP AIDS -- 513-421-AIDS (2437)
My former employer and one of the largest testing sites in the city, offering the free 20-minute oral swab OraSure. In the past, though I have not received confirmation on this for this year, they offered all day walk-in testing on National HIV Testing Day. On Fridays, too, they offered walk-in testing from 9a-1p. I'm guessing it will not be much different tomorrow. Regardless, show up at 9a, they are always, always busy, and I've been informed that the entire testing staff will be available to test that day.
2) Cincinnati Health Department
Ambrose Clement/Burnet Ave 513-357-7350
Northside Clinic 513-357-7600
Price Hill Clinic 513-357-2700
Offering the free 20-minute finger stick test. I don't have much information on their program, and I've not heard of anything specific they are doing. But, if you go to the Burnet Avenue location, see if you can get Johnnie or Chuck -- they are both fantastic people and just wonderful, compassionate testers.
3) Northern Kentucky Independent District Health Department (NKIDHD)
Boone County -- 859-363-2060
Campbell County -- 859-431-1704
Grant County -- 859-824-5074
Kenton County/Covington -- 859-431-3345
Kenton County/Ft. Mitchell (main testing site) -- 859-578-7660
Testing process varies based on location, some do venipuncture and some do the 20-minute test. They put out a great press release and are on Cincinnati.com with their schedule. They are offering special times tomorrow, so check it out here.
4) Planned Parenthood
Sites include: Hamilton, Middletown, Auburn Ave, Western Hills, Springdale, and Clermont County -- 800-230-7526
Offers the 7 day venipuncture, but it does charge a nominal fee for an HIV test. Last I heard it was under $20, but I can't be sure. The great thing is that they are everywhere and there is likely one close to you.
5) University Hospital Emergency Department -- 513-584-0720
Though free, they offer the 20-minute venipuncture, but you have to call while their nurse is working and you have to be medically cleared and sign a waiver before you can do a walk-in test. It's a little bit more paperwork, as the program is more designed for patients of the ER.
Other programs I know little about:
- 4CHARIS/SARA IRP -- 513-542-9730 -- Religious organization
- Hamilton City Health Department -- 513-785-7080
- Warren County Health Department -- 513-695-2428
Likely, there is a testing site near you that you should go to.
As for me, well.
I haven't been tested in two years. And tomorrow... I will be getting tested at STOP AIDS bright and early at 9am. Come out, check it out, I'll be there. Even for me, folks, this freaks me out. It's hard, I know, but it's worth your time.