Someone sent me an email inviting me to be a part of World AIDS Day 2012 activities here in Jamaica.
The UN has mandated that December 1 be recognised globally as the day we remember persons who have lost their lives to the disease and spread awareness about HIV/AIDS with an aim to eradicating the disease in the future.
That email was what jolted me back to reality.
Not so long ago HIV/AIDS was considered a conspiracy theory to eliminate the black race and then the rumour surfaced that it was a disease which only affected homosexual men. Those myths have since been debunked and thankfully, we now know that anyone, anywhere who is in contact with bodily fluids, is susceptible and safe sexual practices should be maintained along with regular testing.
Despite the great efforts of the UN and other related entities to obliterate ignorance of the disease, HIV/AIDS is still a taboo subject among many social groups.
I have friends who still admit that in the heat of the moment they "take a chance".
Chuckle all you want, but it actually happens more frequently than we care to admit and this is irrespective of age, gender or social standing. A lot of us are very confident in the 'look and jook' method, believing quite incorrectly that we can visually scan a prospective sexual partner and tell if they are disease free.
I know prayer is a very helpful tool in many circumstances, but it should not be relied upon as a back-up contraceptive or STD blocker. Remember God helps those who help themselves, so use a condom and save yourself the stress.
As women we tend to leave our lives in the hands of our partners, in that we sometimes remind him to use it but invariably get caught up in the passion and rarely if ever check if one is being used, and used correctly. Some women are embarrassed to go to purchase condoms, I used to be. I observe them sometimes in the line leading up to the cashier at gas stations and I can tell who's buying what just based on the amount of cold sweat popping up on their foreheads and the furtive looking around. As for the whispering when they do survive the wait to be attended to and the inadvertent loud repeat by the cashier who speaks so loudly that sometimes I have to remind myself I'm not at the American Embassy.
Ladies, get past that hurdle and men, let's accept that while buying and using condoms may take away from the spontaneity of sexual gratification, that one moment of bliss is certainly not worth a lifetime of regret.
Like me with this email, most people are only vigilant and suspicious when we are reminded and during the days leading up to and a few days after December 1 to have condoms handy, check condom effectiveness, stick to one partner, get tested or abstain. After the posters come down and the workshops have folded, they slowly skate back to Ignoranceville and bury their heads in the sand like ostriches.
Education is a powerful tool, but my granny used to say "too much education can turn you into a fool." When the disease first surfaced and we used to think that even touching someone with the virus meant an immediate death sentence, I think we operated more safely in sexual matters. I'm not suggesting we go back to that stupid time, and I'm extremely grateful for ongoing research that has provided medical help allowing persons to live productively with the virus, but we cannot slack off on safe sex practices.
The AIDS/HIV test is one test everybody is happy they failed. Every day should be World AIDS Day. Have a great weekend folks.
Holler at me email@example.com and follow me on Twitter @ElvaJamaica.