Today's PSA: The Ultimate Accessory – don’t leave home without it

I so very, very much did not want to write this post. In fact, I've been sitting here in front of the computer for over an hour trying to write ANYTHING else. Like any good blogger, I keep a few posts tucked away for those days when I am hung over or singularly uninspired on vacation. I went through my list twice and even checked my random post-it notes musings to see if there was something else to say. Nope this is it. I feel somewhat like a public service blog this week but after watching today's Oprah, it had to be written.

Why the discomfort, OneChele? Well, sex is not something we discuss in the BougieFam household. Iz you iz or iz you ain't… we shan't be discussing it. Just the way it's always been, and I'm good with it. As you may have noticed from my postings, I will often allude to sexual acts but if you are waiting for me to break it on down… well, buy my book (I save the steamy stuff for the fiction). I watched Ms. Oprah's show with tear-brimmed eyes. I received no less than 10 tweets asking about my opinion and an equal number of emails. With a sigh, I recognized that the following must be said:

For those of you that may have missed it, Oprah had a show about a man here in the Dallas Area who had given the HIV virus to no less than 15 women that he was juggling at once. These were all women "of a certain age" positive they had discovered a true love. Some of them simply never thought to ask his HIV status, others asked and he point-blank lied. Yeah, we don't play that brand of bullshiggity here in Texas. Using a loophole in the Assault with a Deadly Weapon charge they were able to hit old boy with multiple felony counts. This bastard came to court and tried to say that one of the women had infected him. Hello? Welcome to the DNA of disease, they were able to do some CSI forensic magic and prove that the strain of HIV in all the women's blood originated from him. He's currently serving forty-five years with the possibility of parole in twenty-two when he will be seventy-two years of age. Someone warn the Golden Girls if this jerk gets out. Click back to Tuesday, October 20 show to see highlights.

As I watched the ladies answering questions, I noticed how utterly devastated they were and how angry and defensive they became when an audience member asked them why they didn't insure their own protection. "Do NOT blame the VICTIMS!" One woman snapped from the stage. While I understood what she was saying, I still couldn't help but think… in this age of sexual tomfoolery, really no condom? Another woman exclaimed tearfully, "This is a man that each of us thought we were in a long-term intimate trusting relationship with. He was clean and well-spoken and employed, you would never had thought he carried this deadly disease."

I had to press pause. I understand that these women were a bit older. My generation and the ones behind it came up in the post-Magic Johnson era. Condoms became something you could scoop up at the Student Union next to the campus newsletter. Getting that this was not their experience, I still goggled that someone still believed you could look at someone to see if they are carrying diseases. STDS and AIDS are not like meth-use, you can't eye someone up and say, "Umm, they on that stuff." And psycho-assholes like this dude go out of their way to appear as normal and healthy as possible. Even if I set aside unwanted pregnancies and STDs (a lot to set aside), I simply don't trust someone to care as much about my health as I do. It would never occur to me not to have the full-blown conversation or break out the foil packet, or both.

Today's PSA: The fast growing population of HIV/AIDS infected citizens are African-American females. Please peep these scary-ass facts from the CDC:

Of all racial and ethnic groups in the United States, HIV and AIDS have hit African Americans the hardest. The reasons are not directly related to race or ethnicity, but rather to some of the barriers faced by many African Americans. These barriers can include poverty (being poor), sexually transmitted diseases, and stigma (negative attitudes, beliefs, and actions directed at people living with HIV/AIDS or directed at people who do things that might put them at risk for HIV).

When we look at HIV/AIDS by race and ethnicity, we see that African Americans have:

  • More illness. Even though blacks (including African Americans) account for about 13% of the US population, they account for about half (49%) of the people who get HIV and AIDS.
  • Shorter survival times. Blacks with AIDS often don't live as long as people of other races and ethnic groups with AIDS. This is due to the barriers mentioned above.
  • More deaths. For African Americans and other blacks, HIV/AIDS is a leading cause of death.

The rate of AIDS diagnoses for black women was 22 times the rate for white women. Some reasons might be:

  • Sexual risk factors include high-risk sexual contact such as unprotected sex with multiple partners or unprotected sex with persons known to have or be at a high risk for HIV infection. People may be unaware of their partner's sexual risk factors or have incorrectly assessed them.
  • Stigma, a "negative social label that identifies people as deviant", also puts too many African American communities at a high risk of infection. Many at risk for HIV infection fear stigma more than knowing their status, choosing instead to hide their high-risk behavior rather than seek counseling and testing. Therefore they continue to be at risk and may infect others .

WTF ladies? As women (and black women) we have a hard-enough path to walk without adding this to the journey. Why in all that is holy would you not buy, carry and use condoms unless you are in a long-term committed relationship with some whose test results you have privy to? And by long-term I don't mean six months. They continue to research incubation periods and probabilities between exposure and infection. So someone your boo slept with x number of years ago can come back to haunt you in more ways than one. That kind of risk is a game of Russian roulette I have no desire to play.

They are coming out with a male birth control pill, great – it doesn't cure AIDS. They have a preventative shot for HPV, excellent – it doesn't cure AIDS. Get a condom, keep a condom. NO excuses:

  • "I hate how condoms feel." Everyone does, lookie here – Trojan came out with some new stuff that's supposed to be the bomb-diggity. Can someone who has tried the new Ecstasy joints write in and let us know if it's as advertised (in PG-13 language, please).
  • "It was only once." Yes and just like with pregnancy, once is all it takes. I don't care what freak-nasty stuff old boy pulled out of his bag of tricks, is it worth your life?
  • "He swore he was clean." He probably swore he was single/straight/employed too, right? You would check his resume but not his test results? Come on now.
  • "It was only oral sex." Hmm, sounds familiar – 'there was only one bullet in the gun' – still a lethal weapon, people.
  • "AIDS is a survivable diagnosis." And a car crash is a survivable accident but I'm not deliberately trying to have one, now am I?

Rest assured that these poor Texas women are not the first (remember that high school cluster in Georgia with 21 infected teens) or the last to get tragically burned by bad choices. Just be smart, be part of the solution and don't become a statistic. GET TESTED and know your partner's status! One in FIVE people infected with HIV doesn't know it!

You can look up a free clinic for testing here. If you don't want to bust up in a store and buy some condoms (please grow up), here's a link for some freebies and here's a Trojan coupon. Okay, I'm off the soapbox, here's Barack to talk to ya'll.

I can vividly recall one gent who came at me with the "just this once will be fine" bullshiggity. I bounced him outta there so quick no doubt both of his heads were spinning. I gave a damn. Can anyone give me a reason for sexually active people not to carry around and use condoms? Seriously, one good reason? Probably not so comment as you will…

p.s. tomorrow I write about something trivial and fun if it kills me J