An Ounce of Prevention

Image and video hosting by TinyPicNot to sound like an mp3 set on repeat, but the HIV/AIDS situation in Black America is out of control, and we each need to do our part to stem the tide. There, I said it. “You’re preaching to the choir,” you might yell at me, hoping I’ll stop telling well-traveled, well-educated, (obviously) well-read Black women what they need to do to prevent infection. But I’d tell you to “Pipe down in the cheap seats.” When 1 in every 30 Black women will be diagnosed with HIV in her lifetime, somebody didn’t read the damn memo.
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Let me out that into perspective: I’m on a line (OO-OOP!) with 42 other amazing, lovely, talented, intelligent Black women, but according to this stat, one of us will trust the man who is/was doing the other chick/the other man/the illicit drug, skip the condom “just once” and end up with something we just can’t shake.
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Why the seemingly-out-of-the-blue rant? I went to an interesting panel a couple weeks ago presented by TheLoop21 and ICED Media that focused on the affects of this epidemic on the Black community, and I got so upset I had to share. I think many of us think of HIV as a disease of the 80s or the 90s, or a gay disease, but it’s still alive and kicking ass. Don’t get it twisted, Magic might still look good, but in ’06 (the latest year for which stats are available), AIDS was THE LEADING CAUSE OF DEATH for Black women ages 25 to 34. In fact, 64% of women in American living with HIV/AIDS are Black. Add to that the fact that 1 in every 5 people with HIV in the US has no idea they are infected; so while you’re thinking, “He looks clean,” and he’s thinking “I am clean,” you both could be dead wrong.

That’s unacceptable. I’m not going to recite the rest of the statistics again, or show you how to put a condom on an unwilling banana, but I am going to ask you to take care of yourself, because no one can be more responsible for your health and well-being than you. To that end, June 27th is National HIV Testing Day. I’ve gotten tested every single year since I was 18—not because I take stupid risks, but because I value my life. Join me, and take advantage of the plentiful testing sites that will be set up nationwide. Find a free (anonymous) one near you here.

Have you been tested recently? Ever had a scary close call? Tell us about it and inspire others to handle their business.

—Kenrya


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