Alright ladies! Pour yourself a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, because we need to have a heart-to-heart. It’s time we have an honest conversation about having safe sex and the precautions we need to take. Feel uncomfortable? Don’t worry- I’ll go first.
I’ve been single for the last few months (after being in a relationship for 8 years), and I feel like I’m finally ready to get back out there. I got an IUD in 2016, so I’m not too worried about an unwanted pregnancy. What I’m most concerned about are STDs, specifically HIV.
While you might think I’m being dramatic, black women accounted for 11 percent of all HIV diagnoses in 2015 and 61% of diagnoses among women overall. Ladies- that’s HIGH. You take that and the fact I live in Atlanta, which in 2016 Dr. Carlos del Rio, the co-director for the Emory Center for AIDS research, described as “being as bad as Zimbabwe or Harare or Durban,” you can say I’m ridiculously aware of just how serious the AIDS epidemic is. That’s why when Med-IQ reached out with this opportunity, I hopped all over it!
If you’re wondering why the rate of HIV is so high among the African – American community, here are 3 of the reasons that really stuck out to me:
Lack of awareness– 1 in 7 people with HIV don’t know they have it. source
Stigma– the fear of being discriminated against and judged by others for sexual preferences or risky behavior, keeps many African Americans from talking to their peers, loved ones and doctors about their sexual health. source-CDC fact sheet
Socioeconomic factors– Poverty, less access to healthcare, racial discrimination, higher rates of incarceration- all of these things lead to increased HIV risk in the black community. Source- CDC fact sheet
Feeling a little panicked? Don’t worry! Here are a few preventative steps you can take to keep yourself healthy:
- Talk About It.
Start the conversation. As overwhelming as it can feel, it’s so important for you to be honest and open with your doctor about your sex life. Have a conversation with your current or potential partners about it. Offer to get tested together. That might sound crazy, but a lot of people find it easier to get tested with a loved one or friend by their side.
In addition to getting real with your doctor, lend an ear to friends and family to talk about their sex lives. Letting your loved ones know that they can speak to you about their sex life is a powerful act that helps defeat the stigma around sexual health and HIV.
- Use Condoms.
Condoms don’t just protect against pregnancy, they also protect against STDs and HIV. This seems like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised the excuses I’ve heard for someone not wanting to wear a condom. Do yourself a favor- if they’re unwilling to use a condom, be unwilling to sleep with them.
- Consider Taking PrEP.
PrEP is an HIV prevention strategy that includes a medication that, when taken daily, reduces the risk of getting HIV from sex by more than 90% and from injection drug use by 70%. PrEP can stop HIV from taking hold and spreading through your body.
If you’re HIV-negative, but engage in high-risk behavior (hey, no judgement!) that might increase your chance of getting HIV, then PrEP is for you.
If you’re interested in learning more about PrEP, click this link to find a prescribing doctor near you.
Also, please fill out this survey! The survey, which includes more education on this topic, will take less than 15 minutes to complete! Once you’ve completed the survey, you’ll be asked to provide your email address and automatically entered into a drawing administered by SOMA Strategies to win 1 of 8 $100 VISA gift cards.
This post is sponsored by MED-IQ.
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