Keri Hilson*Singer/songwriter Keri Hilson has begun using her voice to help educate others on a serious matter; HIV and the importance of being tested.

“We live so healthy, but it could all be thrown away in one bad second,” Hilson says. “One split-second decision could change everything.”

Ms. Hilson has joined forces with the Reed for Hope Foundation, which encourages the youth to refrain from intimacy until they find out their HIV status and the statuses of their partner.

“I think there’s such a taboo, especially in the African-American community, about talking about AIDS. There’s so much negativity around it that it scares people [from] actually knowing where they stand.”

Another new partnership Hilson formed is with OraSure Technologies. The company now offers a more convenient and private way to get tested with OraQuick, an at-home HIV test.

“You know your status within 20 minutes,” says Hilson. “You don’t have to worry about going to the doctor’s office or being ashamed… or waiting super long.”

The new device, OraQuick, has been FDA-approved and is parallel with the type of kits found in other health facilities.

“There’s still a large population of the United States who have never been tested [for HIV],” says Doug Michels, president and CEO of OraSure. “We know that there’s fear, there’s stigma. This gives people another option.”

Even people who have annual HIV tests with their doctor can still use OraQuick if they feel it’s necessary to test more frequently.

For some people OraQuick may prove to be too expensive or they may just prefer to utilize the free testing facilities. Either way there will still be a way to get tested through hospitals, doctors’ offices and public health centers.

“Every time someone gets tested for HIV, we are one step closer to ending the AIDS epidemic,” said Dr. Jonathan Mermin, director of CDC’s Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention in a statement. “Learning your HIV status opens the door to powerful HIV prevention and treatment options that could save your life or the life of someone you love.”

Hilson agrees: “Early detection is the key.”

“I’d like to see people say, ‘YOLO, so know your status.’ Grab a condom, because you only get one body,” she explains.

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To find an HIV testing center near you, log on to, and for more information about OraQuick go to Keep up with Keri Hilson’s HIV awareness efforts at

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