People Aren't Getting Tested For HIV — For The Worst Reason

Photographed by Jessica Nash.
HIV and AIDS are on many minds since the Centers for Disease Control's recent STD report and Charlie Sheen's announcement last week that he is HIV-positive. Now, a new study, published in AIDS and Behavior, has revealed the startling reason why so many people are foregoing HIV testing. These findings are especially troubling because they reveal an ongoing stigma around the disease.

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In an examination of 62 previous studies on HIV testing, researchers found that an overwhelming majority of people refused to be tested — out of fear. This could mean the fear of a positive result, or simply a fear of the test itself. The importance of early detection in treating and managing HIV is key, and it's deeply unfortunate that anxiety can hold people back from staying informed.
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Of course, this issue extends far beyond one's own bill of health. An undiagnosed case of HIV puts any partners you may have at risk, and refusing to get tested also perpetuates the problematic cultural stigma around HIV. We get a lot wrong about the virus, and getting tested (and encouraging others to do so as well) is a major step forward in terms of our sexual education as a society.

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