HIV and AIDS have become ever prevalent over the last 20 years, especially in minority communities. While science and awareness has matured, we still have a lot of ignorance on the subject. Whether it’s an aversion to doctors or lack of education on the subject, sexually transmitted diseases and their cases continue to rise. One man, Alonzo Davis, has taken a stand in the fight against HIV and founded an organization, JustBeenTested.com, to further his efforts. Here at SBM, we like to highlight these great causes and wanted to speak with Alonzo to get a better understanding of his mission:
SBM: So what exactly is the big idea behind JustBeenTested.com?
JBT: We focus on popularizing the idea of knowing your [STI] status with the use of incentives. We want to mix social networking/media, education, blogging and cool prizes into the same pot as sexual health. We There are issues with health that we can not control, STIs are not like that for the most part, JBT wants to encourage people to get in control and stay in control of their sexual health. JBT is fresh, fun and doesn’t come off like public service announcement.
SBM: Why create JBT?
JBT: My uncle died from AIDS, so my awareness about STIs has been peaked since then. I also feel the approach to national STI awareness is out dated and depressing. Its some girl looking in the mirror looking ashamed or some guy in a dim lit room holding his head in worry about to cry. Its too much, and it makes people want to NOT know their status if they appear to be healthy. The energy around the topic of sexual health has to change and JBT will lead that charge. It was always awkward for me to ask my partner about her STI status, and even more awkward right after you put that work in. I put myself in that situation and it was the longest three weeks of my life, and damaged the relationship because I blamed and accused her for the slightest thing wrong with me while I waited for my results. My neck was stiff and I thought it because of something she gave me. It should have never come to that, but that close call was all I needed. JBT wants to do all it can to encourage you to be protected and use the site to fall on the sword of that awkward conversation. “I’m verified on JBT. Are you? You should check it out” That seems a bit more painless.
SBM: What does it take to become a member of the network?
JBT: Well to become a member of the network is free and you can register from facebook if you don’t want to complete the five fields. If you want to take advantage of the main feature that JustBeenTested provides called Test Date Verification it requires a few more personal details, none of which are shared with other members of the site or third parties. The only thing that is public is your first name and screen name. You [also] have privacy controls on your profile page that hide everything and allow people you authorize to view your profile.
SBM: What is Test Date Verification?
JBT: From your profile page, download your Test Date Verification form, take it to your doctor or screening facility to complete and get it back to JBT by any of the methods listed on the form. We then verify that you’ve been tested on a specific date, update your profile with this “Verified Date” and give you 300 points to get you closer to winning a gift that you choose. Your results or test taken are not confirmed, we leave that up to members to disclose with their partners. There needs to be more pride associated with knowing your status. The same pride you have when you take that bathroom selfie or pics of you flexing in the gym, have that same pride when it comes to knowing your status when it comes to
SBM: What if I am in a committed relationship?
JBT: The same way you support breast cancer awareness by buying the pink ribbon or Lupus awareness by buying the purple wrist bands. Getting JBT verified is how you support STI awareness. It says that you are not ashamed to get tested, know your status and my peers should do the same. All of your boys you play ball with, you think they know their status? The stats say no. One of them can unknowingly affect you if they get cut on the court and put you at risk. Not too long ago, unsanitary dental tools infected patients with HIV. Find out where to get tested on our “Get Tested” tab and support the movement
SBM:What’s the incentive for users?
JBT: The member convos on the home page are blogs the members create and ofter entertaining and engaging. The site has a point system, and you get points for doing certain things–posting a picture or video on your profile, commenting on an member convo, referring people–but you get the most points when you get your test date verification. The member with the most points per month gets a $75 gift card of their choice. So you can be that “social media whore”, love to give dating/relationship advice and win something in the process. We have picked up a couple of sponsors to provide product as well. For the next couple of months we will be raffling FLUD watches to people who get verified. So you can be that “social media whore” and win something in the process.
SBM: Anything else you want to share?
JBT: We recently got Po Johnson from Lala’s Full Court life verified. We saw more verification requests that month, than any other month since the launch. Inspire others to not be great. It takes courage to want to get tested, I know, but the consequences of not knowing are too severe. Black men NEED to step up more. None of this “I’m good, I’m good” crap because you don’t feel sick. The majority of the time, men find out they have an STI from the women they’ve infected, women are much better about going to the doctor. Women deserve better and men need to do better. JBT’s mission states “community of leaders”, its being a follower that allows you to just act, not think and talk, and put your self at risk.
To support this great cause, or for more information, be sure to check out JustBeenTested.com! For those in the NYC area, JBT is having a verification / networking event this Wednesday August 7th!