to be Aware

First of all, AIDS is a scary disease. When you hear it, the first thing you will think of is different from what anyone else will think when they first hear it. I think of my aunt. She was delivering a baby for a woman who was AIDS positive. This lady was in so much pain, and on so many drugs before her labor, that she grabbed a needle from nearby and stabbed my aunt. The needle had been used to draw blood from the woman minutes before. Every six months since then she had to be tested for HIV.

AIDS and HIV can be very scary. Back when I was in school they didn’t mention it much, aside from the fact that it would kill you, was from sex, and that it was a virus. They mentioned not sharing needles, wearing condoms, and not touching blood from anyone else. Later, in college, I learned the history, pathology, and treatment for the disease. I also learned that most deaths from AIDs are caused by secondary opportunistic diseases that attack the person and cause their body to ultimately shut down. Coming in to that knowledge gave me the kick I needed. I now try to help people in everyday life to learn about HIV/AIDS and encourage them to not look down on someone if they think or know another person has it. Sadly, several babies are born each year with HIV. Other people acquire the disease and don’t know they have it. They are then able to pass it on in the right circumstances.

In romanticized sex within movies, strangers have sex with strangers almost anywhere. First dates lead to sex, as well, in movies, but there is never any talk of AIDS, HIV, or other STIs; nor do they discuss risks and protected. This does not help support awareness or prevention.

I have been tested before because a lover was promiscuous, and he had no knowledge of his lover’s history/condition. We had sex before I found out about his discretion. I was terrified, knowing nothing, and went to the doctors. I was tested and found out he had passed something on to me, but luckily I was not HIV positive. Later, I found out the girl he slept with wasn’t positive either, but that scare alone was enough to put me on high alert for life. Those days spent waiting to hear the results were some of the scariest to live through…the uncertainty was painful. I spent hours going over scenarios of how to tell people, if I’d have to talk to my boss, what to tell my other doctors, how to act if I cut myself around someone else. It was endless in my head. I am now in a monogamous relationship, and before my husband and I were committed to one another, and checked out health wise by doctors, we always used condoms and reported on other lovers. Communication and protection during sex is the key. I don’t think about it too much in the bedroom anymore. My husband and I are “clean” and are only having contact with one another. When we do decide to open our bed to another person there will be lots of talking and preventative measures taken, just in case.

Thankfully, there are programs out there that support those with HIV and AIDS. There are support groups and groups for loved ones living with those people suffering from the disease. I just wish people wouldn’t shy away from the topic so much. We need to get loud, get out, get helping, and work toward curing and preventing this fatal disease. Take the time to look it up. Take the time to learn. Take the time to protect yourself and help others.

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