Empower Yourself this HIV National Testing Day by Knowing Your Status

by J. Maurice McCants-Pearsall

Today is National HIV Testing Day, which serves as an important reminder of how far we’ve come since the 1980s HIV and AIDS crisis.

Today is National HIV Testing Day, which serves as an important reminder of how far we’ve come since the 1980s HIV and AIDS crisis, and how much work we still have left to do. In 2020, people living with HIV and AIDS are not only living, but thriving. The keys to this lies in knowledge, power, the ability to access affordable health care and inclusive health care policies. 

However, for Black and Brown communities, especially gay and bisexual Black men and trans people of color, obtaining these essentials needs can be challenging. So today, we highlight two wonderful agencies in the leading on this critical work and sharing a resource to agencies across the country that provide testing and tools LGBTQ people need to stay healthy and stay informed. You can always find agencies near you.

BU Wellness Network 

Dr. Darrin Johnson, Executive Director 

3737 N Meridian St #401, Indianapolis, IN 46208

Phone: 317-931-0292

Website: https://buwellness.org/

BU Wellness Network, located in Central Indiana, continues its mission to enhance the health and wellness of the community by continuing HIV/STI screening services in the wake of COVID-19.  

BU Wellness Network offers these services by appointment-only visits to the office or appointment visits via a mobile wellness unit. Staff at BU Wellness Network ensure increased safety by wearing PPE and supplying PPE to community members engaging in services. These services are essential and designed to increase knowledge of one’s HIV status, to encourage risk reduction and to secure needed referrals for appropriate supportive services. 

BU Wellness Network continues to provide confidential and non-judgmental screening in a welcoming environment. 

Hours and Scheduling 

Testing hours are Monday-Thursday 10am until 6pm, and Friday 10am until 2pm. Community members can request appointments by visiting buwellness.org or calling 317-931-0292.  

AIDS Alabama 

Tony Christon-Walker, Director of Prevention and Community Partnerships

3529 7th Ave S, Birmingham, AL 35222

Phone: (205) 324-9822

Website: http://www.aidsalabama.org
Due to COVID-19, AIDS Alabama has scaled back operations in an effort to keep staff safe and reduce risk of COVID-19 acquisition. Even with reduced capacity, AIDS Alabama performed a combined total of 93 HIV/STI screenings since March 16

The similarities between COVID-19 and the early HIV epidemic are striking. There is not much verifiable information, there is uncertainty around how to treat it and many people are not taking it very seriously. Hopefully, it won’t take thirty years to learn how to manage COVID-19. 

People need to know that testing is a point-in-time result and doesn’t provide any protection from the virus. We still see people coming in weekly to have an HIV test done while deciding not to use proven prevention methods. We hope that people will start making better decisions when it comes to both of these diseases. Testing is just the first step. 

There are several agencies like AIDS Alabama and BU Wellness Network that offer services during the uncertain times of COVID-19. Empower yourself, your friends, your family and those in your community by sharing this resource to find testing agencies in your area.