Saturday, August 13, 2022
Interview with Tony Wafford of I Choose Life on the CDC’s new Doing It Campaign
By Special to the Sentinel
Published March 10, 2016

Tony Wafford

What is the Doing It campaign?

The Doing It campaign is a new effort by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to encourage all adults – especially those in communities that are most affected by HIV/AIDS like the Black community – to get tested for HIV. Doing It aims to destigmatize the HIV testing conversation, and to make HIV testing a normal part of our lives.


Why are you Doing It?

I joined the CDC to launch this campaign because our community needs to have the HIV testing conversation. We can no longer afford to be smug or complacent about HIV/AIDS and the impact that it has on Black people. It is critically urgent that we bring the message of HIV testing to our people, and it is equally important that we have truthful and honest conversations about sex and sexuality. Getting tested for HIV should be a normal topic for conversation, not a discussion labeled as taboo. If it were so “taboo,” we wouldn’t bear such a huge burden of HIV/AIDS.

What is the impact of HIV/AIDS on the Black community?

According to the CDC, although we represent 12 percent of the U.S. population, we account for about 44 percent of all new HIV infections. For a community with such a small size compared to other groups, we sure are impacted by this disease devastatingly. And, we are challenged in preventing this disease because of many factors including fear and judgement. The Doing It campaign hopes to remove the stigma associated with HIV testing, or even talking about HIV or sex. It’s a conversation that needs to be had, and it’s about time we stopped being shy or fearful. Our lives depend on it.

Why do you think there is stigma and/or fear around HIV and testing?

We are sometimes “old-school” with our thinking, and are in denial about how society has changed. If we as a society are beginning to be open about our sexuality, we can surely be open about HIV testing. But we have this fear of being judged if we talk about HIV testing, because we think people might label us as promiscuous or irresponsible. This type of thinking is harmful, because responsible people can get HIV too. There is no need to label anyone, we all need to put aside our discomfort and start having honest conversations about sex and HIV testing. We need to take a no-shame-in-my-game approach to sex and HIV, so that we can stop the spread of the disease among Black people.


What makes this campaign different from other HIV/AIDS awareness campaigns?

The Doing It campaign wants us to know that knowing your status is empowering, not shameful. It’s a “judgment-free” campaign that encourages us to talk about HIV testing over coffee with our friends, on a first date with a potential partner, or even in our church groups. This campaign is about opening the door for honest conversations about the impact of HIV/AIDS on the Black community, and encouraging us to get tested no matter what your sexual orientation is. With the rate at which HIV/AIDS is affecting our community, we can’t afford to be judgmental!

Where can we find more information about this campaign?

Visit for more information and resources on the campaign. You can find everything from posters and videos to testing locations on this site. You can also join us by sharing campaign information on your social media channels, and with your friends and loved ones. It truly does take a village to reduce the burden of this disease on our community. No judgments, no fear. Just empowerment in knowing your status and getting the help you need!

Categories: Op-Ed | Opinion
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