[TALK LIKE SEX]<br />
Keri Hilson Says âGet Tested!â<br />
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a lot of money. What do we do about that?

DRR: That’s an issue I face as a doctor. A lady will come into the office and she’ll have her weave freshly done and her nail are laid, and I don’t think she did them herself, but she doesn’t want to pay her copay. Asking the average Black person to come up with $40 isn’t the issue. What we’re doing is asking people to do something they’re uncomfortable with, which includes budgeting and prioritizing, not spending money on things that are frivolous.

EBONY: You mentioned the risk factor. If people don’t think they’re at risk, are they really going to spend the money on the test that they don’t think is going to come up positive?

DRR: No, they’re not. But what they might do is decide, “Hey, I’m not going to make it to the doctor any time soon, I just don’t have time to. I just heard Keri Hilson talking about it, why don’t I just pick it up and read it and try it?” So I think what it is going to do is give us a tool, which is key in HIV prevention.

KH: We all go to the drugstore. We prefer that privacy. I think that’s another thing: we’re a very proud people and I think it’s the privacy thing. I know there are a lot of entertainers who are deterred by the privacy thing and understandably so. I know the average person feels some of that too. They’re afraid. It’s fear and it’s shyness about getting tested.

EBONY: And I think it’s a fear of finding out they have it. Upwards of 20-25% of people with HIV don’t even know they have it. What would you say to people about when they need to talk about HIV testing when they’re dating and building relationships?

DRR: Half of the people that are single and dating admit that they don’t even ask about HIV status before having unprotected sex with their partners. The conversation should shift to “Let’s get tested together.” Because it’s easy to say you got tested three months ago and it was negative, but where is that paperwork? What doctor did you go to? It’s easier to say, “Well, we like each other, why don’t we go get tested? Why don’t we go to the drugstore?”

EBONY: Would you say this test is empowering for people?

KH: Absolutely. You have the power. You’re in the drugstore, you can save your money, it’s on your mind. You feel responsible and you [become] empowered.

EBONY: Anything else you want readers to know?

KH: It’s about eradicating the taboo factor and having these conversations and feeling comfortable. That’s why we’re all coming together. It’s important in our community to spark the conversations, to read the articles and talk to your friends. It’s about the knowledge. You can’t protect yourself if you’re unaware. It’s about knowing that this [test] exists and how easy it is to take. I get tested every six months, even when in a committed relationship. I take health very seriously, and I’m hoping we can encourage the youth to take health seriously. We only get one body.

DRR: It’s important to not only get tested and know your status, but to practice safer sex. Testing is a big part of this, but we also want people to be knowledgeable about safer sex practices. Prevention is a big part of this for me.

Around the country, there will be free testing options for National HIV Testing Day. Find out where you can get tested near you and learn your status. The most empowering thing you can do as a sexually active individual is to be fully aware of your HIV/ATD status, so don’t hesitate to get tested!

Feminista Jones is a sex-positive Black feminist, social worker and blogger from New York City. She writes about gender, race, politics, mental health and sexuality at FeministaJones.com. Follow her on Twitter at @FeministaJones.