On my last visit to the gynecologist, I broached a topic that has been on my mind for a while. My Ob-gyn is a straightforward older black woman so I figured that she’d give it to me straight. I asked her the best way to go about asking your potential sex partner about their HIV status.
There has been alot of buzz in the news lately about the high rates of black women contracting the HIV virus. Furthermore, AIDS is now the leading cause of death for black women ages 25-34. Let me repeat that: AIDS is now the leading cause of death for black women ages 25-34!In addition, the rate of AIDS diagnosis for black women was approximately 23 times the rate for white women and 4 times the rate for Latina women. In 2006, teen girls represented 39% of AIDS cases reported among 13–19 year-olds. Black teens represented 69% of cases reported among 13–19 year-olds. Sistas we have to protect our own lives here. Yes there are men out there who are on the ‘down low’, but there are significantly higher numbers of heterosexual men that are infecting black women with HIV. And, according to my Ob-gyn, condoms are only 70% effective for protection against viruses. She explained that viruses are smaller than bacteria and there is a chance that they can pass through the membrane of a condom.
Do you want to risk your life for sex? The most basic step to take in order to protect yourself is to wear condoms all the time. Don’t hesitate to ask because you don’t want to kill the mood. Don’t assume because he hasn’t cheated on you that he’s ‘clean’. Also don’t assume because he said he’s negative that he is. He might not know his status (up to 21% of the people who have HIV don’t know it) or he might have been infected after he was tested. You don’t know all of the people he’s slept with… or the people they’ve slept with. Don’t play Russian Roulette with your life.
My doctor relayed a story of a man in Texas who was knowingly infecting women with HIV. One woman in particular drove the man to the health clinic to receive his test results. Instead of showing her the results, when he got back into her car he told her “I’m negative”. Doesn’t that just chill you to the bone?
The best way to bring it up, she said, is to explain that condoms are only 70% effective against viruses. Then volunteer to show your guy your bloodwork results. And then ask to see his. Don’t accept his word. (Here she gave me the kind of look that only a black woman can give you…lol) Now you may be thinking that you don’t want to imply that you don’t trust him. I feel you sista. But whats worse, to take his word and find out years later that you could have saved your own life, or to have a potentially uncomfortable conversation and make sure you are protected.
Whats more important to you, your life or your relationship? The best thing you can do for the black community is to procreate and pass on the wonderful genes that you have. The best thing you can do for your man is to show him that you’re proactive about BOTH of your lives. And, the best thing that you can do for yourself is make sure you know what’s what. I hope I’ve motivated you to stop beating around the bush and make sure that you’re safe.