Congressman John Lewis took an HIV test Monday to mark National AIDS Testing Day.
ATLANTA -- Congressman John Lewis (D-Atlanta) opened the doors on what's usually a private affair and took an HIV test in front of a TV news crew.
11Alive News had a camera rolling as Rep. Lewis took the OraQuick Test at AID Atlanta for National AIDS Testing Day.
The test involves a simple swab of the gums, and the results take 20 minutes.
"It's very important that we do this," Rep. Lewis said. "HIV is growing so fast here in the Southeast and in Atlanta, especially with young people."
Rep. Lewis said he wants to encourage more black men and women to get tested.
Right now, African-Americans account for 61 percent of new AIDS diagnoses, according to statistics provided by AID Atlanta.
Geography is also an issue.
Forty-six percent of new AIDS cases in America were in the South.
"There's a great level of stigma here in the South," said AID Atlanta Executive Director Tracy Elliott. "We're in the Bible Belt. There's more concern about talking about HIV and talking about safe sex than actually doing the things you need to do to keep safe."
"In religious communities, in neighborhoods, in our schools, we should make condoms available," Rep. Lewis said. "People are gonna have sex."
AID Atlanta offers free HIV testing year-round, not just on National AIDS Testing Day.