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| Tuesday, May 03, 2011

The Center for Disease Control and Living Out Loud with Darian have teamed up to make sure black gay men are being proactive about our sexual health. You may have noticed the banner on the right side of the blog questioning your HIV status. If you don't know your status simply click on the banner to find a testing site in your area.

Did you know:

• More than 1 million people in the United States are living with HIV.

• Of those 1 million people living with HIV, 1 out of 5 do not know they are infected. (People who have HIV but don't know it can unknowingly pass the virus to their partners).

• It is important for everyone to get the facts, talk about HIV/AIDS with partners and loved ones, reduce risk behaviors, and get tested to learn their HIV status.

• Put yourself to the test. CDC recommends that gay and bisexual men be tested for HIV at least annually. Men with multiple partners or anonymous partners, and men who have sex while using drugs or whose partner engages in these activities, should be tested more frequently (every 3-6 months).

• Check and recheck. Knowing and rechecking your HIV status is a critical step toward stopping HIV transmission, because if you know you are infected, you can take steps to protect your partners. Also, if you are infected, the sooner you find out, the sooner you can receive life-extending treatment.

Speaking of treatment. Did you know the guidelines for starting anti-retroviral therapy has changed?

When the CD4 cell count—the number of T-cells in a cubic millimeter or milliliter of blood—drops below 200, the immune system is considered to be "compromised" and you are at a higher risk of experiencing an AIDS-related opportunistic infection, like Pneumocystis pneumonia. In fact, immune system damage can occur at even higher CD4 cell levels. In turn, experts suggest that HIV treatment be started well before the CD4 count drops below 200; it is generally recommended that antiretroviral therapy be started once the CD4 count falls below 500. Some experts even recommend starting treatment when the CD4 count is above 500; basically, as soon as possible after HIV diagnosed. (Source)

I urge all loldarian.com readers to get tested for HIV. If you're negative continue to take steps to protect yourself. If you're positive take the steps to get the necessary medical care you need to survive. As cliche' as it may sound- an HIV/AIDS diagnosis is challenging but is no longer the death sentence it used to be. Standing still and not taking a proactive approach to your health is not an option. Choose life.

• Call 1-800-CDC-INFO or visit www.hivtest.org to find HIV testing locations near you.