Sigh. I've written and re-written this post fiddylebem times and still can't get anywhere. I refuse to sound preachy. I refuse to throw statistics at you. I refuse to be like the school-teacher who looks down her nose at the naughty students who just can't seem to get right.
But we aren't gettin' right, people. Today is World AIDS Day, and it seems like the work never ends. At this point, whether it's right or not, I'm tired. I have my head in my hands, and I'm weary and confused. Why? Because I don't understand a few things about people.
Why do I know people who still look at HIV/AIDS as a disease that affects "them"? Why don't we see that we are "them"?
Why do I know people who will spend hours at the gym, load up on flax seeds and quinoa, and bark at me about BPA warnings when I warm food up in Tupperware containers in the microwave - but have unprotected sex with people they don't know well enough to share straws with?
Why do I know people who still think they can get away with the "I'm allergic to Latex", the "I don't like how it feels", or my personal favourite - the "I can't find any that are big enough for me" routine when discussing condom use?
Why do people not know their status? Why do people NOT GET TESTED?
I'm getting angry. I just can't understand why otherwise smart people act so stupidly.
Granted, with today's medical advancements, contracting HIV/AIDS is not an automatic death sentence. But YOU, Mr. Average Dude That I Met At The Club, are not Magic Johnson. You might not be as lucky as him.
Yes, you may have known him "for a minute", sista - but maybe your minute isn't long enough for antibodies to show up in an HIV test.
Listen. I'm getting riled up. Let's just leave it at this: before you donate another dollar to an HIV/AIDS charity, and before you volunteer to work in the community with organizations like ACT (the AIDS Committee of Toronto) or Black CAP (Coalition for AIDS Prevention) - go to your doctor or a community clinic, and get tested. Once you are tested, make sure you get your results and know your status. Once you know your status, learn the proper way to stay healthy, whether your results are negative or positive.
We're all in this together, folks. We are now them, and the only way that will change for the better is with openness and education. Fear is real, but ignorance is not bliss in this situation. When you know better, you do better. Samantha eventually did:
Please see the above-mentioned links for statistics and information on how to protect yourself and stay healthy.
How do you fight against HIV/AIDS? Do you donate, do any community work, or do you just make sure that you stay on top of your/your partners' testing? What myths about HIV/AIDS did you grow up with, or still hear among your friends and peers? What do you think is needed in order to curb the spread of HIV/AIDS where you live?