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Letters to the Editor

BY DI READERS | FEBRUARY 07, 2014 5:00 AM

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Finding one’s HIV status

This year, seven people in Johnson County will find out that they have contracted HIV. Many more will contract HIV and not learn that they are HIV positive. This is not to scare anyone; HIV is a chronic illness that can be easily managed if folks get into treatment early but that first step is finding out your status. Today is National African American HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, and while all should be informed of their HIV status, African Americans in Iowa are disproportionately represented in terms of new HIV diagnoses. We make up only 3 percent of Iowa’s total population but are 25 percent of new HIV diagnoses. We are 12 times more likely to be infected with HIV than white non-Hispanic Iowans.

Usually when people discuss HIV/AIDS, the message is directed at gay and bisexual men. Gay and bisexual men are still the most affected group in the black community, black women are the second-most affected group. Most women contract HIV through heterosexual contact. If you are a heterosexual black woman, you are 20 times more likely to contract HIV than a white woman. I can’t emphasize this statistic enough: We, black women, are 20 times more likely to contract HIV than a white woman. HIV is a black issue.

Johnson County Public Health will offering free rapid HIV tests at the Iowa City Public Library from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday. If Saturday is not a good time or date for you, Johnson County Public Health offers free rapid tests every weekday 9 a.m.-5 p.m. No appointments necessary. If you have any questions or would prefer setting up an appointment for a HIV test, call 319-356-6038. Again, there is no need to fear the truth. Instead, let us take this information and protect ourselves.

Conner Spinks


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