“Finding out myself I was positive in 2005… July 27… and wasn’t comfortable with it. I lied about it. I told people it was cancer because I wasn’t ready,” Forest Boggs, recovery coach at the Alliance for Positive Change said. to confront him.”
It took Boggs years to come to terms with his HIV status. Now, he works with an outreach program that offers free testing for both HIV and Hepatitis C, and support for those facing a diagnosis.
“Knowing your status is a big part of it. That way you stay healthy. You don’t infect others. You’re not alone. There are people here for you,” Boggs said.
For more than 30 years, the Alliance for Positive Change has fought to improve the lives of those affected HIV/AIDS. The goal is to test directly on at-risk communities.
“It’s important that they know they are positive/not positive so they can’t pass it on to other people,” director Ariane Watson said.
And also so that they can get medical care.
“The alliance provides not only testing, but also curative care resources,” said Karen Seltz Kabinga, founder of African Advocates Against AIDS.
“If you don’t know, you can’t get help,” Harlem resident Alejandro Oquendo added. “I have a cousin, he’s lived with him for nearly 30 years.”
The virus was first discovered in the 1980s. It is transmitted through blood products, such as unclean needles, mother to child, or unprotected sex.
“It’s very important. At the end of the day, if you’re here having unprotected sex, get yourself checked,” said someone else.
Health Efforts say nearly 1.2 million people in the United States are infected with HIV. There were 35,000 new infections in 2019, although there has been a 30% decline in new infections since 2010, thanks in part to increased testing and awareness.
On Wednesday, a mobile truck moved to various locations around town, but there are also permanent clinics where testing is available five days a week.
“You don’t have to face this on your own. There is medicine to help you. You can live a long life,” Boggs said.
For a list of clinics, Please click here.
World AIDS Day began in 1988 and is dedicated to raising awareness of the virus. This year’s theme is “Fair Access, Everyone’s Voice”.