Stigma Is So Last Season!
HIV/AIDS, a lot of people hear the words and immediately begin to feel so uncomfortable. I get it; I realize that as humans we have a fear of what we don’t understand. When it comes to our sexual health we cannot afford to not understand something that is plaguing our communities, something that no one who is sexually active is immune to, something that effects the lives of people who haven’t even reached the age to engage in sex like children of those directly affected, children that end up getting directly affected themselves, family, friends, perfect strangers, we all are affected just by this disease’s existence. We would not see the high rates of this disease if more people took this seriously and understood that preventative measures is really everything.
That means it starts with me and you, US. This starts with people being open to understanding and helping others to understand as well. I admire the messages behind Magic City fashion week. “Stigma is so last season.” Don’t let the stigmas keep you from being educated or educating; stigmas are a reason this disease is spreading at higher rates. This disease has no face! The only immunity is abstinence and if you are not practicing that then you need to be knowledgeable and realize you bumps shoulders with people living with this disease way more than you realize. You need to know about it, we need to be about it.
I am a heterosexual black woman and I don’t have a ton of past sexual partners, but looking back on my life, I cannot tell you I have always taken this as seriously as I do now, I realize none of those facts I just mentioned matter because it would be a lie if I said I have never made choices that could have resulted in me contracting this disease without my knowledge because I just didn’t think about it enough, we didn’t think about it enough, it wasn’t talked about enough. It wasn’t as real to me. It didn’t become so real to me until it hit my heart and affected someone near and dear to me. Now I encourage everyone to open their eyes and ears, and use their voices to speak up. As a black woman I am aware that case numbers amongst my demographic are heavily rising. Black women are contracting this disease more and more and it can be prevented. Whether I am sexually active or not, negative or positive status, to me, just being a black woman is enough motivation to speak up on this topic.
I admire the beautiful brave souls that stand up and tell their stories and share their positive status. As a writer and someone who embraces transparency, that measure of vulnerability touches me at my core because you have to have reached a point where you realize that it’s not about you to be able to use your experience to help others and not just help them but help to change their lives in turning changing the lives of many. Don’t let the anxiety of pulling up at the health department or wherever you choose to take advantage of the opportunity to get tested, cause you to not make an active stand for your life. I remember the first time I got tested, just the thought that it could only go 1 of 2 ways can make you feel anxious because you’re literally waiting to find out something that could potentially change your entire life, just think not knowing is going to change your entire life in a totally different way, but knowing your status, implementing safe sex practices, starting these important conversations is what brings about real change. We can stop this, but it’s going to take educating, knowing that even if the worst case scenario happens, THIS ISN’T IT, you can still live a long healthy life due to the amazing advancements in medicine. This isn’t a death sentence and doing what you need to do to protect yourself and others shouldn’t be a chore.
I hope you will all think about this deeper and not just think, but ACT. Take care of yourself, talk to your partner, talk to your friends, talk to your children, talk to yourself and say “I need to do better”, if you aren’t already. Recognize that it could have been or could be you and do something about that! “Stigma is so last season.”
Author: Curtrice Williams