A group of LGBT and allied bloggers is calling for people to post, blog, and tweet about their HIV tests on National HIV Testing Day (June 27, 2013) using the hashtag #TestMe. The campaign was born out of a discussion about HIV at a pre-conference at the annual Netroots Nation conference which was attended by GLAAD staff members this year in San Jose, CA. The discussion that led to the formation of #TestMe, led by bloggers and activists Todd Heywood, Teddy Partridge of policybear.com and Lisa Derrick, emphasized the continuing relevance of HIV treatment and prevention in the 21st century.
About 20% of people living with HIV do not know they have it, according to the CDC. People who are unaware of their HIV status are 3.5 times more likely to transmit it to others, which makes testing a crucial part of preventing transmission. If transmission rates continue at their current rate, in 30 years half of all men who have sex with men will be infected. HIV continues to disproportionately affect communities of color: 70% of all black men who have sex with men will be infected in 30 years if transmission rates stay stable, and black women are 20 times more likely to be infected than white women. In addition, Latina women are 4 times more likely to be infected than white women.
According to Derrick, "During the conversation we realized that we needed to do something to encourage HIV testing," which prompted the birth of the #TestMe hashtag and corresponding twitter feed and Facebook page.
In addition to being National HIV Testing Day, June 27th is the 44th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots.
"We already know how significantly knowing your status reduces the spread of HIV and AIDS, which is why campaigns like #TestMe and National HIV Testing Day are so important," said Omar Sharif, Jr., National Spokesperson for GLAAD. "It is essential for everyone to get tested and know our HIV status."
Take part in #TestMe and National HIV Testing Day! Share your photos and stories of your testing experience via Facebook, Twitter, and other blogging/social media outlets, and tag them with #TestMe. The earlier HIV is detected, the lower transmission rates will go.