Even with all the advancements in HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment, the number of women affected is still breathtaking. Currently, women represent 27% of all new AIDS diagnoses and, of that group, African-American women account for 66%. Of those numbers, 80% of the new cases are a result of high risk heterosexual contact. Meaning, 80% of the new cases result from male/female sex with someone either using drugs intravenously or someone that has had sex with multiple people. We still think abstinence and protected sex are options.
Through acknowledgement and conversation we can increase awareness in our circles that will impact the that 80%. We have to.
First of all, we need to have a conversation about HIV/AIDS with those we care about. During these conversations share the different ways it can/cannot be transmitted, review the statistics proving we can no longer behave carelessly when it comes to sex and, for anyone that hasn’t been tested, strongly encourage them to do so.
For me, waiting to receive my results was a very sobering experience. Regardless of how much you tell yourself and others that you’ve made wise decisions, until you know your status, every experience is questionable.
While waiting on results, I suggest discussing all those questionable moments. Discuss how poor judgement, even once, could potentially impact not only one person’s life but the lives of so many other people that we love.
Use these conversations to arm yourself and your circle of family and friends with the commitment needed to make lifestyle changes. After receiving their test results, I’ve often heard people vow that they will never put themselves through that unnecessary stress again. Dialogue and accountability might just be all the reinforcement we need to make lasting changes.
A Conversation with our Girls
HIV/AIDS has long surpassed pregnancy as the worst thing that can come of having unprotected sex. Today, protected sex is a requirement and should no longer be considered a ‘backup’.
Create a ‘protection zone’ where those that choose to have sex also choose to play an active role in protecting themselves. We can no longer make it the guys responsibility to show up with protection. We are all equally responsible for dwindling the cases of HIV/AIDS. Supporting and encouraging each other is required but be sure to say the things that need to be said to the women around you. Address all carelessness.
Abstinence is the only way to prevent contracting HIV/AID. Remember that. Having regular conversations with other women about prevention will slowly build confidence making it easier to have open dialogue with not only each other but potential love interests.
Let’s arm our daughters, sisters, friends, cousins and nieces with the confidence they need to make wise decisions concerning their bodies. We have to love ourselves more than the thought of being in love.
A Conversation with the Guys
Considering that 1 million adults and adolescents are living with HIV and 21% do not know they are infected, our men have to take protection seriously as well. Again, protected sex can no longer be an option.
Give the men around you statistics to be shared with the men in their circle, other women in their lives and any young men that may be looking to them for guidance. These conversation are mandatory as anyone can be affected.
If we work to make these conversations second nature, I believe, our men will become more adamant about protecting themselves and encouraging others to do the same. Stopping the spread of HIV/AID is no one group’s responsibility. We have to commit together.
A Conversation about Unfaithfulness
The goal of all this is to bring awareness to the staggering number of people infected with HIV/AIDS, to know our status, to set a standard for how we will handle ourselves moving forward (abstinence or protected sex) and to educate/hold accountable those around us. Through all this, we hope to keep ourselves safe and decrease the number of reported cases every year.
If we continue to involve ourselves with people that insist on having multiple partners, what is the point of getting test? Again, we can no longer allow the men and women in our lives to behave carelessly. The consequences of having sex with multiple partners is much bigger than a broken heart, we could easily become apart of the 80%. Give careful consideration to what you could possibly be giving up before continuing your relationship and then make the best decision for you.
National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NWGHAAD), a nationwide observance that encourages people to take action in the fight against HIV/AIDS and raise awareness of its impact on women and girls, will be recognized on March 10th. On today, March 9th, this post is my show of support to those women and girls that have been affected by HIV/AIDS.
Between the media and the statistics, I think we have enough information to move us in a direction where these numbers don’t continue to grow. What we aren’t doing, however, is talking to those around us. In our own circles, through communication, I think we stand a chance of making an impact.
“Every 47 minutes, a woman tests positive for HIV in the United States.“