I tell a lot of people, I say if you know, you're not quite sure, you're not having any symptoms, but for peace of mind, go donate blood-- 'cause if you go donate blood, they have to test for everything anyway.Blood donation groups were quick to point out what terrible advice that is:
Donating blood is not an appropriate mechanism to obtain screening for sexually transmitted diseases or any other test result. Though donated blood is screened, and is safer than it has ever been, the hallmark of the system is the honesty of the donor in completing the donor history questionnaire.Moreover, if your blood is rejected, they may not tell you why, in order to discourage people from abusing the blood donation system.
Why do I bring this up now?
Today is National HIV Testing Day. The Centers for Disease Control has a website, HIVTest.org, which lists testing locations throughout the country. I commend them for their efforts to eliminate this life-threatening illness. There's just one small problem [click to enlarge]:Yes, the CDC site is referring possible HIV-positive individuals to that same Planned Parenthood in Roanoke. I sincerely hope that the Planned Parenthood will not refer these individuals to the local blood bank!
Fortunately, people in need of HIV testing do have other, healthy options available. Planned Parenthood is not the only provider of legitimate reproductive healthcare! In fact, HIVTest.org shows that there are at least eight other HIV testing locations within a 30-mile radius of Roanoke.
If you are sexually active, I encourage you to get tested today. Avoid the blood centers and Planned Parenthoods; carefully choose a clinic where you feel comfortable. Although AIDS remains a serious disease, medical advances have brought us to a point where being HIV-positive doesn't have to be a death sentence. Early detection is key!