WASHINGTON, DC — How would I tell my grandma?
The question raced through my mind while I swept the plastic mouth swab between my gum and my upper lip. I was sitting in a testing van in Anacostia, and I had taken a break from my reporting to get an HIV test.
It would be the greatest tragedy, I always thought, if I were to die from the same disease as my mom. This fear is what kept me from wanting to know my own HIV status for 18 years.
At the 19th International AIDS Conference in Washington, DC, doctors, researchers and advocates stressed how far we have come in the past 30 years of fighting HIV. Speaker after speaker assured attendees that science can now help HIV-positive people live long, healthy lives.
The biggest threat to the goal of transforming HIV/AIDS from a death sentence to a manageable chronic disease, it seems, is getting people tested and aware of their status so they can take advantage of the treatments available.
Why is this such a challenge? Because of stigma.