I was at the park one day with my friends playing basketball when a lady we know from the neighborhood came up to us with another woman and told us they were doing free HIV tests. At first we all laughed at them, but then they started explaining to us how important this was for our community. It was a little uncomfortable at first, since we were a group of young Honduran teens and we aren’t used to talking to women about this kind of thing. Especially not about sex!
The more they told us about how high the number of people who do not know they have HIV is, and about the different ways to get it, the less we thought it was funny. Some of my friends started trying to walk off, but I decided to go with them to take a test. I had been looking for places to take the test, but there aren’t a lot of places that offer it for free in this part of town. It seemed like I was just the brave one going with them, but I knew I had been having sex without a condom with a woman who injects drugs sometimes. Until these women talked to us, I had no idea that I could get HIV like that. I had always just thought if I injected drugs or had sex with someone that had HIV that’s how I could get it. My test came back negative, and I felt so relieved that I finally got to take the test.
Mateo’s story is one of our HIV Testing & Prevention program’s "Role Model Stories” in which real people describe how they made a change to reduce their risk and improve their health as it relates to HIV and AIDS. Names have been changed and the images are staged with actors.