I can tell you from personal experience that getting an HIV test –– especially your first –– can be a scary experience, indeed. But since the dawn of the AIDS pandemic in the early ‘80s, there’s never been a better time to know your HIV status than right now. While it’s not quite true that HIV has become a no-big-deal chronic condition like high blood pressure or diabetes, medications have advanced to the point where people are living longer, healthier lives with the virus. HIV/AIDS isn’t the automatic death sentence it was not so very long ago –– provided you get the treatment you need.

A good place for people to get their first HIV test is at a special public event, where the atmosphere is more casual, less medical clinic-y, and the community vibe is strong. That’s where the Condom Nation Big Rig Tour –– a national awareness and service campaign from the global AIDS Healthcare Foundation –– comes in. The tour (which I would’ve called “The Rubbers Hit the Road,” but they didn’t ask me) lands in Fort Worth this weekend to offer free onsite HIV testing and free condoms to help block the spread of STIs. The first stop, which happens 9am-3pm Sat Aug 24 at the Poly-Sub Courthouse (3500 Miller Ave), is conducted with Tarrant County’s AIDS Outreach Center. The second stop –– 2-6pm Sun Aug 25 at the Fort Worth Convention Center, 1201 Houston St –– happens in conjunction with 97.9-FM The Beat’s Hip Hop for HIV Concert.