“No one is responsible for your HIV status but you. You’re responsible for knowing it, taking care of it … staying HIV-healthy — and that comes first and foremost from knowing your status,” says Kendall Boone, a Greater than AIDS national ambassador, who works at Emory in clinical trials (where medications get tested for treating HIV and AIDS).
Testing for HIV status may seem scary or even unnecessary, but it is vital in stopping the growing HIV epidemic among teens in Atlanta. It’s important to know your status.
Boone, says, “People have HIV — or they live in silence with it — because they don’t talk about it. So I would really encourage teens in Atlanta in becoming advocates … become involved in conversations around HIV. Join conversations about it … (and) know your status and take responsibility for yourself.”
To get tested, here’s what you need to know:
You don’t need a parent. It is not required for teens 13 and older to get parental consent for HIV/AIDS testing (and other sexually transmitted diseases), according to AID Atlanta. However, each testing facility has its own rules regarding age requirements and parent consent for treatment in case teens test HIV-positive.
According to the Center for HIV Law & Policy, doctors can, but are not required to, notify a teen’s parents of the HIV test result. “Although roughly a third of the states permit health care providers to inform a minor’s parents that their child is seeking STI-related services, none require it.”
You have privacy. The Privacy Rule under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) basically states that no one can use your health information or tell someone else about your status without your permission.
It’s important to understand, though, that whenever someone is infected with a sexually transmitted infection or disease, that information may be reported to the local or state health department, says Raymond Duke, who is responsible for prevention education, health and safety and training at STAND, a nonprofit serving teens and adults. When someone gets tested, a form that includes demographic information — but not names — goes to Georgia’s Department of Public Health to report on birthdate, race, gender and zip code and HIV status. That’s how the numbers get compiled.
You’re not alone. It’s never just an HIV test. Someone will help you and counsel you before and/or after testing, according to hivdent.org. The State of Georgia requires counseling for everyone. Pre-test counseling
and post-test counseling with a confirmed HIV-positive test result are required.
It’s a crime to knowingly spread HIV. In 39 states, Georgia included, it is a crime to have sex if you are HIV-positive or have AIDS without letting your partner know. It’s also a crime if that person donates fluid, organs or human tissue. The person could be imprisoned up to 10 years, according to the American Civil Liberties Union’s State Criminal Statutes on HIV Transmission.
Where Can Get Tested:
Here are a few more locations that are MARTA-accessible and receptive to teens.
Mister Center – offered through Positive Impact Health Centers
WHO: Teens 16 years and older can receive a free HIV Test. Support groups are available and linkage to medical care.
WHERE: 1117 West Peachtree Street, Atlanta, Georgia, 30309
WHEN: Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m.- 6 p.m.; Friday, 10 a.m.- 5 p.m.
CONTACT: call (678) 365-4300. Walk-ins welcome.
WHO: Teens age 16 and older can receive a free oral swab HIV Test. (It’s a 20-min test.) No ID or other documents are required.
WHERE: 4319 Covington Hwy., #117, Decatur, Georgia, 30035
WHEN: Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m.- 4:30 p.m.
CONTACT: (404) 288-4668, ask for testing. Walk-ins welcome.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also suggests:
- Visit National HIV and STD Testing Resources and enter your ZIP code.
- Text your ZIP code to KNOWIT (566948).
- Call 800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636).