In addition to being aptly named, World AIDS day serves as a good excuse to actually do something and help fight for a healthier and less stigmatized world to live in. One of the best ways of taking action today is getting tested. Bring a friend, find out your status and feel good about sacking or ovary-ing up to the status of functional adult and socially responsible sexual free-agent.
Rock&Vida, an Argentine NGO known for its inclusive outreach efforts (read not just for gay people) and flair for bringing music into the fight against the virus, will be offering free rapid HIV testing and counseling services today in the plaza in front of the Congress building here in Buenos Aires until 6 PM today. Its Facebook page has information on events taking place in other major cities throughout Argentina too.
For more LGBTQ-focused care and testing services, Nexo AC is an outstanding option. It offers free rapid testing. Walk-ins are welcomed from 4:30 PM to 8 PM on Tuesdays and Thursdays but making an appointment is by far the best use of everyone’s time. Getting tested is free, but making a donation is also an option. Donating should be given extra consideration if you are foreign, especially if you are using the public health system here, as funds are limited and the organization’s budget comes from fundraising and Argentine tax revenue. Help them help you and pay what you can. Buena onda and karma are things apparently.
The City of Buenos Aires has also done a seriously solid job of putting information together on where and how to get tested. Additionally, if paying reasonable fees for a more “full service” sexual health clinic sits well with you, then check out Fundación Helios Salud. It’s easy enough to do considering it has three locations in different parts of the capital.
If you already know your status and are still hoping to take action today, consider sharing or just watching content from Fundación Huésped’s campaign TESTimonios. The campaign aims at helping people make good decisions after getting tested. If you have a couple of extra pesos lining your pockets (it’s the beginning of the month so chances are good that you might) then consider donating to one of the organizations above. Each works with a slightly different demographic, under slightly different models, but all do an admirable job at keeping people in this city healthy and cared for. Giving time, attention or money to these organizations is always an excellent moral investment option.
It’s important to focus on giving. There is no question that HIV has led to an almost unmeasurable sense of loss over the last 30 years. The traumas experienced at the height of the crisis have faded into the memories of most living in Western countries. That’s not to say the crisis went away, though. It just got a better PR team. Those of us left behind have had to pick up the pieces of unfinished conversations, novels, paintings and lives, and continue fighting through the world without the voices and presence of some remarkable individuals. It’s not only about loss, though, this horrible virus, the one we collectively despise for its ability to take is also giving us something – an opportunity. We have the chance and the responsibility to think through the prejudices and misinformation that help this sack of RNA get transmitted from one person to the next. We have the chance to connect with the people around us learning to live and thrive despite the virus’ presence in their bodies, families or communities.
Celebrate in the face of one of the biggest challenges humanity has ever faced. Celebrate by getting informed, getting tested and getting together with the astounding and beautiful people that make up whatever community you connect with. If LGBTQ history can offer us any one undeniable truth it’s that love always comes out on top. Put a little love and information into your day today, because they remain the best remedies we have in this fight.