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Dr. Rachael Ross is one of the leading activists against HIV/AIDS. The medical doctor/sexologist who is a recurring guest on the popular daytime medical show The Doctors, says that everyone needs to be tested annually whether you’re married or in a committed relationship or not. It’s important to know your status as she says that 2% of African-Americans have HIV/AIDS and that 20% of those infected don’t even know. National HIV Testing Day is Friday, June 27.

The Tom Joyner Morning Show spoke to Dr. Ross this morning to find out more.

Why do you have to have National HIV Testing Day on Friday?

It’s a way to start the weekend off right. Don’t you want to go thorugh the weekend on the right track. If you get a diagnosis of HIV on a Friday, you just regroup, meditate, plan, get ready and go to the doctor on Monday. If you get a positive HIV test, you’re going to have to change your life in some ways, so why not start on a Friday, you’ve got Sunday to pray about it.

It’s the perfect day. Even the Centers for Disease Control and the United States Preventative Task Force all recommend that everyone between 13 and 64 get tested for HIV every year, and particularly in our community when an estimated 2% of us have HIV.

When you really look at the numbers you have to realize its something that is predominantly affecting us and we have to get tested each year. Test our partners, and teach our children to start getting tested and teach safer sex practices. You have the home test that you endorsed that only takes 20 minutes.

Should a person have condoms and an HIV test by the bedside?

If you’ve had any reckless activities in the past month or two and you’re worried that you have an HIV infection, you really need to get a blood draw from your physician.The rapid HIV tests, the kind that you can do at home, or the kind you can do at a clinic, those are only effective if it’s been 3-6 months since you’ve contracted the virus. What I’m excited about is that there are just more ways to test now. We really don’t have an excuse now. When 20% of the people who have HIV don’t know it, they could be passing it along to a loved one all day everyday.

When you look at HIV infections, they’re by the historically Black colleges and universities. The people greatest at risk are those between the ages of 25-34 and the second highest infection rate is between 13-24. Miami, Baton Rouge and Jacksonville, Florida; those are our top three cities. Then New York, D.C. and Florida. We’ve got to do better.

How does one start the conversation with a partner about testing?

I never have sex with anyone without knowing their HIV status, so let’s get tested together. That way you know for sure where everybody is.

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