Castro District News

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By Brittany Doohan

Grab an OraQuick at the local drugstore, swab your mouth, have a cocktail and 20 minutes later, know your status!” — Ross Mathews

Ross Mathews, the author of the national bestselling book Man Up! Tales of My Delusional Self-Confidence and host of E!’s hit series “Hello Ross,” wants you to know the importance of getting tested for HIV — and that with OraQuick, a 20-minute in-home oral HIV testing kit, it’s never been easier.

The number of reported cases of HIV is going up. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM) are most severely affected by HIV, yet represent only 2 percent of the United States population.

The only way to know you have HIV is to get tested, but people aren’t doing it. Why? “They’re scared of the testing process!” said Mathews. “People are scared to go in and get tested because of how horrible it’s been in the past; the needle, the blood and the weeks wait time — that sucks!”

But thanks to OraQuick, testing for HIV has never been easier. You can go down to your local drugstore or and get an at-home test for $40 — and in 20 minutes by just swabbing your mouth you can have your results. “And what’s great is that you can do this with someone you want to have sex with. You guys can each grab an OraQuick at the local drugstore, swab your mouth, have a cocktail and 20 minutes later, know your status!” said Mathews.

When you get your results there’s a 24-hour hotline you can call with counselors waiting to talk to you (English or Spanish) to direct you to other resources. “You can do the test by yourself, but you’re not really alone. OraQuick takes away all those fears,” said Mathews.

“People are living long and healthy lives with HIV. So we’re trying to let people know that if you’re out there, and you’re sexually active, you have a responsibility to yourself and your partner to know your status. We’re trying to lift the stigma,” said Mathews.

Along with being an advocate for HIV awareness, Ross Mathews was also the Grand Marshall for the 2014 San Francisco Pride Parade. “I’ve been to San Francisco before for Pride, but this is my first time being Grand Marshall. My main duties include waving really well. It’s one of two things I’m naturally talented at — and the second is making really good chicken salad.”

Here are two things to take away from this and think about:  

A. How important it is to know your HIV status — and how easy it is with OraQuick.

B. How can we get some of Ross Mathew’s chicken salad?