Testing, one, two, three, testing …

June 27 marks the 16th annual National HIV Testing Day. If you haven’t been tested in the past six months to a year, you are overdue. There are numerous free, anonymous testing sites throughout the city. Visit www.hivtest.org to find a testing site.

Think of getting tested as your patriotic duty. If public health is a matter of national security, and HIV is a public health concern, then getting tested for HIV and knowing your HIV status can be your contribution to keeping America safe and prosperous.

If you won’t get tested for your own health, your family, your loved ones, your lovers and exes, do it for your country.

In all seriousness, HIV is a concern at the community, city, state, national and international level. If we consider how many people died of AIDS in the 1980s and early ’90s, we’ll never know how much creative capital was lost, how much GDP was lost or how much productivity was lost to the epidemic.

Now, more than ever, the sooner you know your status, the better your chances are for survival, and for finding medications that will keep you healthy longer.

Also, HIV/AIDS doesn’t have the stigma the disease had in the early epidemic. It is treatable, and you can live with the disease.

Anyone can get HIV. Long gone are the days when HIV/AIDS was a gay men’s disease. People with AIDS include gays and heterosexuals, blacks and whites. The list includes Magic Johnson, Greg Louganis, Ryan White, Jack Mackenroth, Freddy Mercury, Arthur Ashe, Rock Hudson and Amanda Blake.

That is not to say that living with HIV/AIDS is desirable by any means: AIDS, frankly, is expensive. It can be disabling and financially, emotionally and physically draining.

Reports put the cost of domestic HIV/AIDS funding at $10-$15 billion per year since 2000; if you don’t have insurance or other support, medications and care can cost an individual up to $25,000 per year. Over a lifetime, the cost of care for a person with HIV/AIDS can top $600,000.

But HIV/AIDS isn’t the death sentence it was in the early days. People are living — and being healthy — with the disease. There are programs to help people with HIV/AIDS get the medications they need if they can’t afford them.

There’s a proverb: Knowledge is power. When it comes to HIV/AIDS, it really is true.

Get tested.

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