23 Jan No Sex Before Tests
Although the recent news of the HIV positive college student who (allegedly) knowingly infected more than 30 partners with the disease centers around homosexual men, similar stories have largely involved women in the past. The details surrounding this latest incident led me to think more about how HIV and AIDS affects Black women, and how such a large portion of us contract this and other STDs/STIs.
According to The Black Women’s Health Imperative, HIV/AIDS related illness is now the leading cause of death among Black women ages 25-34. They also go on state that 1 in 30 African American women will be diagnosed with HIV in their lifetime, and that Black women account for 66% of new HIV cases among women.
I’m aware that socio-economic contributors are at play (contraction of diseases by incarcerated men, homosexual men living heterosexual lives, poor or absent sex education, etc.), but at the end of the day, we are in control of our choices, and we have to choose to make better decisions regarding our lifestyle and sexual health.
Actions we can take to decrease our odds:
- Abstinence: The most obvious and effective way to reduce the likelihood of contracting an STD/STI is to abstain from sex (of all kinds).
- Condoms: Once the decision has been made to engage in sexual activities, the next best thing is to commit to using condoms EVERY time we have sex. Although condoms don’t completely remove the risks of obtaining STDs/STIs, using them significantly reduces transmission rates. This is a simple, inexpensive, and significant step that can be taken to decrease infection rates.
- Testing: If we choose to engage in unprotected sex, getting tested with our partner should be a priority.
- Education: Unfortunately, many people don’t receive comprehensive sex education and lack the tools needed to make informed decisions regarding sex (some think pregnancy is all there is to be weary of). There are lots of free resources online and local facilities nationwide that provide free services, tools, and resources, too.
I also think a huge part of sex education means talking (honestly) to our kids about sex and all that goes with it. For that, there are also resources tailored for parents.
Now, since I want to keep it real here, let me say: I think that most people either prefer not to or choose not to use condoms, at least not EVERY time they have sex. Because of this, I think a ‘No Sex Before Tests’ policy is an easy, appropriate, realistic compromise. This would allow the individuals involved to know more about what they’re getting into and to at least have some peace of mind when condoms are not used with their partner. It’s worth mentioning here that many STDs/STIs can remain in a dormant state for years.
Ultimately, the choice is up to each of us to be responsible by choosing to be proactive regarding our health.
BlackWomensHealth.org has lots of information that would be beneficial to read and act on.
AIDS.gov is also a very comprehensive source.
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