CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News UpdateDISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: National HIV Testing Day: Why I Got Tested
The Rev. Aaron Graham
June 26, 2012
Washington Post (06.20.12)
“As I walked into the Whitman-Walker Clinic I thought, ‘What will everyone in the waiting room think when I tell the receptionist why I’m here? Will they think I’m gay? Will they think I cheated on my wife? I wonder if any of them know I’m a pastor?’ ...
“I think it’s this fear of being judged that prevents so many of us from getting tested. ...
“I got tested because I believe Jesus would get tested. I got tested because, if Jesus were walking the streets of D.C. today I’m convinced he would be hanging out with those who are positive. Sick people always seem to find friendship and healing by being with Jesus. ...
“As of 2008, D.C. had the highest HIV rate in the nation at 3 percent, and it actually rivals many West African countries. How can we allow this to continue? It’s obviously not enough to live in the capital of the richest country in human history or have access to some of the best hospitals in the world. It’s going to take changing the culture.
“Next month, our city has the honor of hosting the International AIDS Conference for the first time in the US in over 20 years. I pray God would use this conference to help turn the tide on this epidemic locally by shining a spotlight on this injustice.
“This is a preventable disease, but the first step to stopping the epidemic is for everyone to know their HIV status through testing. And the key to everyone getting tested is to remove the shame and stigma by modeling out a Jesus-like culture of grace.
“June 27 is National HIV Testing Day. I hope you will go out and get tested. Let’s all lead by example and break the stigma.
“For a list of free place to get tested, please visit [www.dchealth.dc.gov].
The author is lead pastor of the District Church, a graduate of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, and a contributor to the Washington Post’s local faith leader network.