Today is World AIDS Day, the moment of the year where millions of people across the globe commemorate people who lost their lives to HIV, and applaud progress made in responding to the epidemic.
In that spirit, I want us to take a pledge to do the following, if we aren’t already:
Have Fun Getting Tested
We love to plan group events, and HIV testing is a great bonus to add to whatever mixer you have coming up. Earlier this year a friend had a party, and included a station for HIV testing with rapid results among the festivities. I had my test done (did I mention it was free?), got my glass of wine, and went back 20 minutes later to find out my status. I was negative! I celebrated with another round.
Include HIV in Your Conversations About Sex
Many of us fear an awkward talk or text with our partners about HIV. It seems like the antithesis of romance to pump the brakes on the dirty talk and ask him about his status and to ask to see results. But this needs to be a standard part of our conversations. “You want me to do what? When? I’m down, LOL. But we need to get tested together FIRST!” If he wants you, he will do what it takes to get you, that includes getting tested.
Bottom line: If your partner can’t get on board with your plan to get tested together, he can’t get on you or under you. On to the next!
Get Tested with Your Husband (or long-term partner)
Many married or committed women tune out of the conversation on HIV, thinking they can’t be infected because of their alleged monogamy. Not only can it happen, it does! Your marital or relationship status is not a protection from HIV as there are far too may cheating mates for anyone to get too comfortable. You still need to get tested annually.
Your committed partner may be offended when you ask. Blame a recommendation from doctor that everyone needs to be tested, despite their marital or relationship status. Also, try framing getting tested as a renewal of your commitment to each other.
This one is for my single ladies. I know you like to get it on, and no one’s knocking you. But do so safely and with protection each and every time you are intimate. Yes, even if he gets tested, and especially if he does not. Good sex is not worth your health and you are worth being protected!
Be Your Sister’s (and Brother’s) Keeper
When it comes to any topic other than HIV, we don’t think twice about being nosy, especially when it’s a friend or family member. HIV isn’t the time to just mind your business. Ask, “when was the last time you were tested?” If there’s an “I don’t know,” a “never” or it’s been too long (over a year, if you’re sexually active), pull out your phone and go to hivtest.org to find the nearest testing facility. Don’t hesitate to make an appointment from a friend in NEED.
How will you get involved in the fight to eradicate HIV/AIDS?
Demetria L. Lucas is the author of “A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life” (Atria) in stores now. Follow her on Twitter @abelleinbk