One of the biggest fears I had as a teenager was to contract the HIV virus. I know it seems like a long shot, but it was the 80's and it was a scary thought. HIV was a death sentence back then. Though it is no less a serious and very scary disease, there are new treatments that can prolong a person's life.
I have to say, my fear kept me safe. I did not engage in sexual activity as a teenager. I lost a lot of boyfriends over it, but I refused to put myself in that position. I figured I had a lot I wanted to accomplish, and there was no one on this Earth worth losing it all for.
Besides thinking it is the grossest thing in the world to practice unsafe sex, it is really, REALLY stupid. Maybe I was scarred at a very young and impressionable age as a child in the theater community during the 80's and early 90's. I remember at least 3 people contracting HIV and dying of AIDS. It was something you just couldn't wipe away from your mind. One of our dear family friends, Jimmy Huntsinger, father of two and extremely talented actor, wilted away right before our eyes. I remember standing at the back of his funeral, thinking to myself, "How can this beautiful man, so talented, so kind, be taken away so early?" Not to forget, he was young.
Later, when I married my first husband, I met his older brother. Who happened to be gay and happened to be HIV positive. The hard part, he had not told his family yet, but felt the need to confide in me. It was a LOT to hold onto. I watched as he slowly deteriorated and sort of went through a self destructive phase. I am happy to report that he turned his life around and is living a much healthier life now. But don't be fooled - it's always a fight for survival.
Outside of the issues with health, there is a huge stigma with letting people know you are HIV positive. I can only imagine how difficult it must be. What if you are single? How do you tell your potential life mate? There are so many factors to consider. Luckily, there are wonderful support groups in most communities to help people find their way.
I remember a few years back, a friend of mine who is very sexually active revealed she had never been tested. Of course, I was a little shocked and very concerned. She mentioned that she would rather not know.
I think a lot of people think that way.
It's a terrifying thought.
What I want from each of you - even those of you in a happy/committed relationship, to GET TESTED. Though you may be the committed one, you just NEVER KNOW. Trust me, how many times have we heard of the super conservative couple, and one or the other has an interesting/dark philandering past. If you have received a transfusion, if you have used needles for drugs... you need to get tested. This is not just a homosexual disease - this is an EVERYONE disease - and it kills.
Have you been tested?
Have you ever sex without a condom?
Have you ever shared a needle?
Think about it.
For those of you not sure.. WHAT IS AIDS?
Let's get to ZERO. (Powerful Video.) Puts it in perspective.
Here is a wonderful map that will let you know where to get tested in your community.
Just do it. Click below: