15 Mar Together for Love: HIV 101 & Discussion
In honor of National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, safe sex promoter, Kiara Dale hosted a Facebook/Instagram Live, sharing some information on HIV/AIDS. Project Know offers our top three takeaways from the live and encourages you to follow Sex In the Dark for more on safer sex.
1. HIV didn’t start in the Black community.
Kiara reviewed the history of HIV and referenced it first being identified in San Francisco and New York amongst gay men and referred to as Gay-Related Immune Deficiency. We often discuss how HIV/AIDS has affected the black community, but rarely, if ever, how the numbers have significantly decreased amongst white men since it’s genesis.
This is a very important topic given that a virus that was initially identified amongst white men is now disproportionately seen in black people. We can discuss some of the social disparities of race and how that plays into HIV infections but is it enough to justify the impact of a virus that is easily preventable? One must ask: “What are we doing wrong?” Is it the stigma? Ignorance? Shame? I’m sure it’s a combination of all three, but it appears there is a lack of conversation about sex specifically between youth and adults. As we get older, we end up filling in the gaps with our peers or learning on our own. For example: Does anyone feel weird buying condoms? I remember feeling awkward the few times I have done such a purchase and I’m sure the awkwardness was actually shame. We all keep saying there needs to be more discussion and it sounds super simple but when I think about the shame and secrets involved when discussing sex related topics with elders; the reality is we are not talking about it enough. While you may not want to have discussions about everything that is going on in your bedroom, it should be pretty easy to at least talk about safe sex. In the words of Kiara, “we gotta do better.”
2. All HIV is not the same.
There are a lot of questions surrounding transmitting the virus to others and the effects on different people whether HIV positive or negative. During the live, Ci Ci Coleman, an HIV advocate and young woman living with HIV, gave her perspective on dating. With medications like PrEP and PEP, many of us have an idea about containing the virus. Not often do we discuss the possibility of two people infected with HIV dating. It is important to note during sexual contact between infected persons, precautions are still necessary. All HIV is not the same and medications are prescribed based on individual needs. Since there are different strands of the virus, infected persons allowing themselves to be exposed to others who are infected may alter their medication needs and interfere with viral suppression.
3. Sharing needles isn’t just about heroin.
I didn’t realize until Kiara said it, but I am one of those people who automatically assumed HIV exposure via needles is referring to heroin users. Kiara explained infection by needle can happen if people are sharing insulin or other drugs. This made me think of other occurrences in which needles can be a factor in the spread of HIV. Tattoos, botox, silicone injections…you feel me? These are all fairly popular procedures and also common on the black market. This is just a reminder to be sure such professionals are adhering to codes/law and providing a clean atmosphere.
Bonus: Don’t say clean when referring to someone’s health. We all took showers today. Thanks, Kiara for that tidbit 🙂