Rashad Santiago, 25, is always telling people to get tested for HIV. He works in a pharmacy in the West End of Atlanta. He counsels those who test negative to get tested again in six months. He provides life-saving medicines to people who test positive.
But Rashad Santiago’s secret was that he was too scared to get tested, himself.
“Last Tuesday, actually.”
Rashad Santiago laughed with relief.
He tested negative.
“I feel good about it now,” he said Friday evening. “But during and before, I was extremely nervous. It’s a nerve-wracking experience” emotionally, not medically. “But I’m so, so glad I did it.”
He said he is finally practicing what he’s been preaching.
“I just want everyone to get tested. I think this is extremely important. Even if you do have it, it’s not a death sentence. You can take medication, you can live a long, healthy life.”
He is well aware of the alarming numbers announced this week by the CDC in Atlanta:
Males in their teens and early 20s now comprise one-fourth of all new HIV infections every year.
And 60 percent of them don’t know they’re positive, many of them are too scared to get tested.
The Georgia Department of Public Health just received a $2.5 Million grant from the CDC to promote HIV testing, and to help people who test positive get the treatments, the medicines, that will save their lives.
Read more: 11Alive News