Dr. Rachael speaks candidly about who is contracting HIV

New Rachael Ross

National HIV Testing Day is June 27, 2014. Coordinated by the National Association of People with AIDS, the goal of national testing day is to encourage individuals to get tested. Here, a proponent of HIV testing and prevention, Dr. Rachael Ross, a family doctor and sexologist, and co-host of “The Doctors,” urges that part of HIV prevention is getting tested. “I have to stress ‘part of’’ because there [are] different layers to prevention — getting tested and knowing your status. For people to be able to test at home is a huge thing. “

Dr. Rachael has teamed up with OraSure, the makers of the OraQuick® In-Home HIV Test, on an education program through “Life. As we know it.” In the campaign, they’ve featured Ross as part of a panel of a trio of women on a web series designed to entertain, inform and engage today’s modern African American woman with candid, real talk about life, love and sex.

Collaborating on the OraQuick outreach initiative was done without hesitation because once Rachael wrapped her mind around the fact that HIV was a sexually transmitted disease (STD) that didn’t discriminate against sexuality or race, it became evident to her it would be a huge problem in our community.

“It is our problem now,” she enlightens. “There’s this whole education process when it comes to HIV prevention that I don’t feel we talk about enough, which is why this partnership [with OraQuick] is so important. This is our issue now. And, it really needs to be something that we spend a lot of time focusing on: ‘how we get HIV,’ ‘how we can prevent;’ there is more to it than just wrapping it up, there’s more to it than just getting tested.”

Why she believes the number of reported cases of HIV is rising.
“When we look at how people are contracting HIV, we know that [the] number one way it’s happening, particularly in our community, is through sexual contact.”

Who’s reportedly contracting HIV at a faster rate?
“In metro Atlanta, metro D.C., New York and Miami, the numbers are just kind of gut wrenching. We take it one step further. It’s harder for men to [contract] HIV from a woman than it is from a man. So that brings up questions about sexuality. I think anytime you are dealing with an illness that is born out of sexual contact … with this HIV epidemic [and] predominantly in the African American community, the way we’re [women are] getting it is through heterosexual contact. And, the way that guys are getting it is statistically through male-to-male contact.”

Why is there still a stigma attached to it?
“When you are dealing with anything sexual, there is stigma attached to it.”

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