Part of my job was educating students in classrooms and in organizational settings about healthy decision making in regards to sex and conducting free HIV testing. That means sometimes I was talking to around 3,000 kids about sex and showing them photos of what Sexually Transmitted Diseases/Infections looked like. (I’ll spare you those, but they were pretty rough.)
Did You Know? (According to the CDC)
- More than 1.1 million people in the U.S. are living with HIV infection
- Almost one in five adults and adolescents living with HIV are unaware that they are infected
- Men and woman in the African-American community make up close to 50% of all new HIV infections in the U.S. per year
- Men in the African-American community make up 70% of those new infections
- Women in the African-American community account for 9 out of 10 new HIV infections amongst women
- The over 50+ age group has one of the fastest rising rates of infection due to physician bias/assumption and lack of HIV community education targeting seniors
Risk for HIV
HIV is spread through some of the body’s fluids, like blood, semen/sperm, vaginal fluids, and breast milk. HIV is passed from one person to another by:
- Having unprotected sex (vaginal and anal) with a person who is HIV positive
- Sharing needles
- Breastfeeding, pregnancy, or childbirth if the mother has HIV
- Blood transfusion from contaminated blood
Misconceptions and Myths about HIV infection
- The biggest misconception about HIV is that you have to be “high risk.”
- MYTH: HIV can be spread through non-sexual physical contact such as hugging, handshakes, sharing toilet seats, and from mosquito bites.
- MYTH: HIV can be spread during contact with saliva, such as through kissing or the sharing of utensils.
- MYTH: HIV/AIDS cannot be transmitted during oral sex.
Many feel as though HIV belongs to a “certain group”, and they are therefore exempt from the risk. It is important to know that HIV can infect or affect anyone-male/female, married/single, homosexual/heterosexual, or young/old.
Testing for HIV
Make sure you are having the uncomfortable conversations regarding testing – not only with your partners and your loved ones, but also your physician. Physicians sometimes inappropriately assume that you are not at risk for HIV, thereby missing an opportunity for testing and HIV education.
- Take it upon yourself to request testing for HIV if your physician has not asked you if you want to be tested.
- It is now possible to know results of a testing in as little as 20 minutes with rapid testing, and it can even be done at home.
- If the test results are negative, you now have a responsibility to live your best life by protecting yourself and practicing safe sex each and every time you have sex.
- If the results are positive, you now have a responsibility to get counseled, get treatment, and then live your best life by protecting yourself and practicing safe sex each and every time you have sex.
Prevention from contracting HIV
Many are too afraid of the possibility of a positive result and therefore don’t get tested. If the unfortunate happens, and you are exposed to HIV, it’s important to know that medical advances and treatments have made it possible for anyone living with HIV to live relatively healthy lives.
- Abstain from having sex
- Practice safer sex: Use condoms
- Get tested regularly (Know your status before having sex with a partner)
Thanks for stats shared from The Urban Housecall
Drs. Rob & Karla Robinson have established The Urban Housecall Magazine, an online health and wellness magazine with health information for men, women, and children as well as The Urban Housecall Radio Show to promote the message of health and wellness through the airwaves.