African-Americans comprise approximately 12% of the population, but we make up almost 43% of those infected with AIDS in America. It’s thought by many that Black women are catching this disease by leaps and bounds over other races due to the fact they are having unprotected sex with men who sleep with other men. Some others speculate it’s a matter of these women being careless and having unprotected sex with multiple partners. Whatever the case, we need to begin speaking to those who are sexually active and encourage them to practice safe sex with ALL partners. Below are some tips that I think are essential when it comes to dealing with your sexual partners.
1. Know your status– It’s up to each of us as individuals to know our status. There are plenty of places to go in your community. Click here to see what testing site is near you. Even if we don’t feel like we have any symptoms or if we’re protected each time, continue to get tested the recommended 3 months.
2. Ask your partner his/her status– Not everyone that has AIDS “looks” sick. Before you engage in any type of sexual activity with your mate, ask them the last time they got tested. If it’s been a while for both of you, or even to ease your mind, go together.
3. If you’re sleeping with multiple people at the same time, let them know– First, each person you sleep with has the right to know if he/she is your only sexual partner. We open ourselves to so much when we engage in sex with others. It’s only fair that we give our partners the option of knowing if they are our only bedmate.
There are tons more things that need to be put into practice, but the main thing is that a healthy, honest dialogue regarding HIV and AIDS needs to take place with all partners. That’s the only way we will stop the spread of this disease that is killing our mothers, sisters, fathers, brothers, sons, and daughters. Parents, when you begin talking to your children about sex, tell them about all STDs. Yes, our focus is on preventing teen pregnancy when sharing birth control information with our children. But we also want to let children know about AIDS and HIV. And this disease doesn’t care who you are or where you live or how much money you make. Please use this post as an opportunity to TALK to your children, partner, and even friends about HIV and AIDS. I’m sure it will save someone’s life. Until next time, I’m just a Southern girl…in the city.
PS- A few years ago a movie titled “Cover” starring Aunjanue Ellis, Vivica Fox, and Leon came out in limited cities around the US. This movie discussed secret bedmates and what could happen if we betrayed a loved one. I strongly suggest you all see this movie.
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I did a research project on Black women and HIV last Spring, and I agree with your suggestions. The “down-low” isn’t what’s killing Black women, but engaging in “risky” sexual practices and committing “serial monogamy” is.