God really does watch over babies and fools.

It was around this time eight years ago when I took my first HIV test. I was 31 years old, and it was just before I got married. My wife and I wanted to make sure that we were both HIV-negative. It seemed like the right thing to do considering the lifelong commitment we were about to make to one another.

I didn’t feel any trepidation or anxiety about the test; I figured that I didn’t have anything to worry about. Fortunately for the two of us, our tests came back negative. But there’s something incredibly sobering about taking an HIV test. No matter how confident you are that the result will be negative, the mere thought of a positive HIV test is enough to shake anyone to their core.

But an even more sobering thought occurred to me afterwards. It was the realization of the many years I had gone without confirmation that I was indeed HIV-negative. What if I had contracted the virus several years ago? I was stupid to have put it off so long and to not make sure that the people with whom I’d been with had been tested. No matter how scary the thought is of learning that you might be HIV-positive, it can’t compare to the horror of living your life without knowing—endangering the health of others in the process. But, there aren’t enough black folks enduring the few scary moments of an HIV test, and, as a result, we’re taking a far more serious gamble with our lives and the lives of others.

For your sake and those of others with whom you’ll have contact, take a moment on National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day to get tested. The price of those few scary moments waiting for your results could save lives. 

Alden K. Loury is editor and publisher of the Chicago Reporter.