I remember a world without Internet, cell phones, personal computers, iPods, iPads and HIV/AIDS. When government health agencies first launched awareness programs, it forced sex out of the bedroom and into public forums. Needless to say, it was shocking for my parents’ generation to give ‘the talk’ especially now that they had to explain the intricacies of various sexual activities. You see, until the early 1980’s sexually transmitted diseases, may have damaged your health but certainly not end your life; unless of course, the disease had gone undiagnosed or you lived in a country with negligible health care. People panicked. In many instances, rumours usurped facts about how the disease was spread; but there was one undeniable truth. It will kill you. The planet has been living with HIV/AIDS for almost thirty years now. Thankfully, medical science has progressed to the point where HIV-positive people can have productive lives. While there is no cure, there is prevention:
1) Get educated!
Knowledge is our first line of defence against HIV/AIDS. To remain mindful of the various methods of infection is important but what to do if we think we’ve been infected? Check this out: http://www.womenshealth.gov/hiv-aids/preventing-hiv-infection/.
My people in Trinidad and Tobago can click over to the Ministry of Health’s website for resources including a downloadable list of same-day testing centres all over both islands. Or call the National AIDS hotline at: 800-4HIV or 625-2437.
2) Get protected!
As modern women who exercise control over our lives, we must do the same for our bodies. It is no longer his responsibility to provide protection. We should have condoms on our person, just in case he got forgetful. You may feel self-conscious making your first purchase but the alternative is unacceptable. High-risk heterosexual activity is just that: high-risk. We must protect ourselves and each other.
3) Get confident!
Educated and protected, we must be confident in the face of an ignorant sexual partner. Sometimes, they don’t want to play by our rules. However, we’re not playing with our lives. Good sense must eclipse feverish desires. Demand safe sex or no sex at all. One moment of passion is not worth our lives!
4) Get honest!
People in monogamous relationships often get complacent about HIV/AIDS awareness, simply because they trust their partner completely. However, this disease still makes its way into many a marriage bed. Couples are not honest with each other about their relationships or sexual desires. You and your partner may have been completely healthy when you began your lives together, but once someone steps out of bounds, your lives are now at risk. Lying, cheating and sneaking around don’t just equate emotional betrayal anymore. Bite the bullet and be honest with your partner, before you do something that all the apologies in the world can’t fix.
Tomorrow, March 10, 2012 is National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. In honour of this, The Red Pump Project, a Chicago based non-profit organisation is holding events like the Rock the Red Pump™ blog campaign. In addition, their 3rdAnnual Rock the RED Fashion Show is taking place on March 25, 2012 and will be hosted by the fabulous Kim Coles. Checking out their Facebook and Twitter would be great. However, if you’re not able to contribute in some way, I urge you to look up groups in your local community or through your home church. They don’t need much: a small donation, a pledge to help them raise funds or awareness by putting posters and pamphlets in your place of business. There’s always something that can be done. Evil wins when good people do nothing. Together we can do something to help to save our own lives.