I am so excited and happy and grateful! Ten days ago, at Netroots Nation 13′s LGBT Connect pre-conference, a few of us sat down to discuss HIV. Todd Heywood writes:
I joined with Teddy Partridge of PolicyBear.com to conduct a conversation about HIV. The title of the group discussion was “AIDS is not Over.” Curiously, we started with no one at our table. Then had Gregory Varnum from Equality Michigan and WikiQueer join followed by Lisa Derrick, Felipe Sousa-Rodriguez and Eyad “Eddie” Alkurabi. The conversation was wide ranging and focused.
And during the conversation we realized that we needed to do something to encourage HIV testing. June 27 is National HIV Testing Day (technically it is National Gay Men’s Testing Day, but who’s counting at this point?) and we decided it would be incredibly helpful to encourage folks to get tested for HIV. But not just get tested – to tweet, Facebook or blog about their test with a picture or two with the hashtag #TestMe.
The response was immediate and positive. We were lucky to be at NN13 (Todd buttonholed Gov. Howard Dean on the patio and the governor said yes!), lucky to be involved with a pre-conference of engaged organizations and individuals, lucky that we have the contacts we do! And I would like to thank SCOTUS for delivering their DOMA and Prop 8 decisions on Wednesday! By the end of NN13 we had GLAAD, PFLAG National, GetEQUAL, Equality Michigan, and dozens of bloggers on board. More and more groups and individuals signed on, and then on Thursday morning I opened my email to see that (RED) would tweet about National HIV Testing Day #testme to their 1 million+ followers. Wow!
Checking out #testme on Twitter, I saw Planned Parenthood, Campus Pride, Michigan Health, The Director of the Office of Public Engagement at the White House, and Naturally Gay Man (he has 46,600 followers!), scores of local advocacy groups, individual bloggers, and media outlets. We added up the number of tweets to followers our tweeters sent out and they equaled just over 1.5 million people! With only nine days of organization! And some really important LGBT news stories really owning the ground (as they should!) YAY DOMA ENDED!! YAY!! WEDDINGS IN CA!!!
The CDC estimates that 1.1 million people in the US are HIV+ and 20% of those are unaware of their status. Early detection and early treatment lowers the rate of transmission. Even though National HIV Testing Day has passed, if you are sexually active, get tested every three months, or when you end a relationship – before beginning another. Ask your partner their status and suggest getting tested together. Play safe and stay safe!