HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is destroying the African-American community and we, as a community and as individuals, need to be empowered in our choices and behaviors. We must take responsibility for our decisions and our HIV status. In FAR too many instances, individuals are choosing to have unprotected sex with casual or uncommitted partners and then turning around and blaming everyone but themselves for the rampant spread of HIV. That sort of immature behavior is fueling the transmission of the virus that causes AIDS. If you choose to have unprotected sex with a casual partner and you don’t know their HIV status you, and only you, are responsible if you contract the disease.
If you are fortunate enough to have a committed partner with whom you can share the stories in this book, I would invite you to have several really deep and meaningful conversations about your fantasies and desires with your partner. Spouses who cheat often claim it’s because they couldn’t share their most intimate secrets with their partner. Your partner should be the one person in the world with whom you can share all your fantasies. Make a commitment to being truthful about your desires and to listening without judgment or condemnation to theirs. During that conversation, reaffirm your commitment not to engage in any behavior that will endanger each other and discuss ways in which you can explore your fantasies that will not include the sharing of bodily fluids with other people.
If you are without a current partner, take the time to prepare a speech that you will promise yourself to have before you engage in unprotected sex anymore. It can be constructed something like this: “You know, before we even get into anything that could get physical, I need to let you know straight up that I am committed to protecting myself from any and all STDs. If we aren’t going to take precautions to ensure that be are both safe from potential danger, including getting tested prior to engaging in sex and using protection, I’m not really interested in getting into anything with you.” Practice it over and over again until you are comfortable saying it to your potential partners without apology. Your life is worth it.
One of the most difficult conversations to have with someone is after you’ve engaged in unsafe sex and you want to start using protection. While you know it’s the right thing to do, you often times don’t want to have that barrier between your intimacy and your connection and nor do you want to talk about histories, choices, and things in general that are uncomfortable. Take a stand for yourself and have that conversation. If your partner gets offended by you bringing up the subject, they probably aren’t someone you should be sleeping with in the first place, ESPECIALLY not without practicing safer sex.
If you find yourself in a situation where you’ve had unsafe sex with someone and you don’t know their HIV status, by all means get tested. People seem to think that avoiding reality will make everything okay. Ignorance is not bliss. Be informed. Know your options. Don’t blame yourself for being weak; don’t blame the other person for infecting you. Most importantly, under no circumstances should you put others in danger of infection because you are too scared to deal with the consequences of your own actions. HIV positive people are living long, productive lives but it’s our collective denial and irresponsibility that is spreading the disease.
As African Americans, we are plagued with a lack of self-love that manifests itself in unhealthy practices in our diet, our relationships, and our sexual practices. Decide today that you will honor and cherish your body and your well-being. Choose wisely. Choose longevity. Choose life.
The National Association of People with AIDS (NAPWA)
8401 Colesville Road
Silver Spring, MD 20910
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
1600 Clifton Rd,
Atlanta, GA 30333
Switchboard: (404) 639-3311 /
Public Inquiries: (404) 639-3534 / (800) 311-3435