WORLD AIDS DAY: Reflections and Memories
In honor of World AIDS Day 2009, I want to open up a conversation/discussion about sex.
Sex makes me nervous! I get nervous both before and after sex. I am nervous because in my head I picture this spinning chart of numbers and statistics that makes me realize that sex is the ultimate Russian roulette. You pull the trigger you get a risk-free nut; you pull the trigger again and you get a parting gift.
After having sex, I hate the immediate realization that I am at risk for a slew of different diseases: Herpes, Gonorrhea, Chlamydia, HPV and HIV are just a few of the “gifts that keep on giving,” especially for us black folk. After that thought come the charts and statistics:
Among adolescents aged 15--19 years, the highest rates of chlamydia occurred among non-Hispanic black females (8,858.1 cases per 100,000 population), compared with non-Hispanic black males (2,195.4 cases per 100,000 population)
A similar pattern among adolescents aged 15--19 years was recorded for gonorrhea, with the highest rates occurring among non-Hispanic black females (2,829.6 cases per 100,000 population), compared with non-Hispanic black males (1,467.6 cases per 100,000 population)
As a sexually active person, and a STI/STD-prevention worker, it is my job to stay informed and know all of these charts, graphs, and statistics. Being informed comes with the price of being hyper-alert about sexual risks. I am a black, gay male which makes me a member of two high-risk groups in terms of HIV/AIDS transmission and prevalency rates. Promiscuous or not, knowing the guy’s name or not, I realize each time that I have sex puts me at risk. What are your thoughts about your risk?
In 2007, according to the CDC data, blacks accounted for 51percent of the 42,655 new HIV/AIDS diagnoses in 34 states with long term confidential name-based HIV reporting. Blacks accounted for 48 percent of the 551, 932 persons living with HIV/AIDS in the 34 states. The modes of transmission for black men were: 1)sex with other men. 2) injection drug use, and 3) high-risk heterosexual contact. The modes of transmission for women were: 1) high-risk heterosexual contact, and 2) injection drug use.
In June 2005, the CDC released a report on a five city study in which they found an HIV prevalence rate of 46 percent among black gay men. Although some black gay men say the sample is not big enough to make that conclusion, I found it alarming given the sample size that such a high prevalence rate was found among the black men tested compared to the other groups’ rates. Black gay leaders made speeches about the study and its implications. Only a few gave the speech I wanted to hear, which is mobolizing black gay men to take our concerns to White House. In 2005, I think many people were too busy twirlin at the local punk bars (cited in the study) to get the high-powered folks in Washington DC deeply concerned about black gay men’s health. At the same time as the invisible black gay crisis, people recognized that black women were bearing the brunt of the HIV/AIDS infection among women.
On December 1st 2009, World AIDS Day, I found myself in a conversation with a group of Delta Sigma Thetas sorority members. We were talking about HIV/AIDS, when one woman raised a concern about dating and having sex with DL men. Although many liberals frown upon this conversation starter, I think it is a healthy initial step toward awareness.
In the conversation, the young woman pressed how she just does not feel comfortable dating or having sex with folks who are closeted bisexuals. I shared with her that I too don’t feel comfortable dating or having sex with folks who are closeted bisexuals. We explored her concern about the mythic DL—disease carrying—brotha out to infect her—the upright Christian—black woman. I mean HIV/AIDS is often times a 100 percent preventable, particularly contracting it by sexual intercourse (USE a CONDOM). What she and I understood was her fear was more about her boyfriend liking dick (read: penis) as much as she apparently does.
All jokes aside, how did you commemorate World AIDS Day? Have you lost someone to AIDS complications? What are your concerns about sex; are you nervous like me?