Black AIDS Institute HIV/AIDS Card Could Help Stop Spread of Disease in Community, Columnist Says
The Black AIDS Institute "may have come up with a strategy that could make a difference" and "help stop the spread of HIV/AIDS" in the black community, Chicago Sun-Times columnist Mary Mitchell writes. As part of BAI's "Test 1 Million" initiative, the institute has developed a card that certifies that an individual has been tested for HIV in the last six months.
After a consent form from BAI's Web site is signed, a testing facility can send the individual's information to an online database. The individual then receives a card stating his or her HIV status and the date of the test. Phill Wilson, BAI's founder and executive director, said the information will be confidential and each person is identified by a PIN number. The card expires after six months. The organization is working to allow participants to also include their sexual history and have access to their data by cell phone or e-mail, according to Mitchell.
Wilson said he would like people to use the card as an incentive to practice safer sex and not as a verification that a person has tested negative, because the card does not reflect the person's behavior since the test was taken.
Mitchell writes, "Instead of women feeling pressured to consent to unprotected sex on the strength of 'Baby, I've been tested and I'm clean,' they can ask for tangible proof." She adds, "Black women, particularly, have to find creative ways to protect themselves against the disease, and an HIV/AIDS testing card is a step in that direction.
"If nothing else, the existence of this system may help those of us who think we aren't at risk for the disease have the conversation," Mitchell writes, concluding, "Just as the unseemly violence playing out in too many black communities can touch the lives of the law-abiding, HIV/AIDS is a threat to us all" (Mitchell, Chicago Sun-Times, 7/1).