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Couples get tested for HIV together

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DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. - When Charmaine Swimpson met Tarrio Broome, they just clicked. Charmaine says, “Tarrio and I met at church. It was a church here in Atlanta, and it was actually the first year that I moved here." Three years later, Tarrio popped the big question, in a big way.

Charmaine says, “I sing with a gospel artist. His name is Kirk Franklin, and we had a show at the South Carolina State Fair, on October 13th of last year. And Tarrio proposed to me on stage, at the end of the concert, in front of like 6,000 people! So, it was just amazing, amazing, amazing!”

But Tarrio had another, more private, question. Would she get tested for HIV? Tarrio says, “I kind of told her, "Just like you want to know everything about me, I want to know everything about you. From A to Z."

Charmaine says, "When he brought it up, I had no problems. Let’s do it.” She says, “I believe some people are just uncomfortable because they're scared, they're afraid of the unknown."

Dr. Patrick Sullivan, a professor of epidemiology at Emory's Rollins School of Public Health, says Georgia is still a major epicenter for HIV/AIDS. But, Atlanta is also a leader in helping couples like Charmaine and Tarrio get tested.

Sullivan says, “Couples can come in together, have a pre-test discussion together, hear their results at the same time. And then make a plan based on that information."

So, how do you bring up testing, knowing your partner might push back?

Sullivan says, "I think one way for people to have this discussion with partners is to recognize that CDC now recommends everyone between 13 and 64 be screened for HIV as part of medical care. So, it's not dependent on what things you might have done in the past."

Tarrio Broome says it’s a tough conversation, but an important one. He says, “The first thing would be just making her comfortable. Just like you're going to get tested, I'm going to get tested. Just like you're afraid, I'm afraid."

Charmaine and Tarrio are both HIV negative, and plan to marry August 1st. Charmaine says if you're partner says "no" to testing, maybe that's a sign. She says, “I'm going to look at it as, "Okay, I'm not worth, I'm not worth the truth. And if I'm not worth the truth, then there's no reason for us to go on to try to build anything here."

To find out more about HIV testing for couples, visit www.aidatlanta.org or http://www.fultoncountyga.gov/images/stories/Health%20and%20Wellness/National_HIV_Testing_Day_Flyer_2014.pdf

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