Today is National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. On this day, we must
take the time to educate our sisters, our daughters and ourselves on the importance of
knowing our HIV status.
March is Women' s History Month, and this month we recognize great women and the changes they have made in our society and across the world. Therefore, I ask that today we take the time to open up and discuss with our families and friends the importance of knowing their HIV status!
In 2011 we must educate all women about being responsible for their own sexual health. At the end of 2009 it was estimated that out of the 33.3 million adults worldwide living with HIV and AIDS, more than half are women.
Why are our numbers so high? We need to ask ourselves: Where did we drop the ball?
We also have to realize that it' s not too late to save our sisters.
The women who came before us fought for our rights in all areas of life so that we, as the new generation of Mothers and Daughters, could have equal opportunity. Remember when being a woman also meant being a part of a sisterhood? Why have we stopped protecting each other?
When it comes to the fight against HIV, we have sadly let the young women of today and ourselves down!
Most people believe AIDS is something only gay men have to worry, about but I am here to tell you that AIDS is something EVERYONE has to worry about. We have to stop thinking AIDS is a gay disease and start realizing it' s a people disease! The H in HIV stands for Human, meaning anyone who takes part in any unsafe sexual act with a person who they did not see HIV test results for can be at risk for contracting HIV.
72% of women contract HIV through heterosexual contact and we cannot continue to blame men who sleep with men. Yes, there may be a few who are not open and honest about their sexuality, but they play a very small factor in why women are contracting HIV/AIDS at such an alarming rate. We are to blame for our rising numbers! We do not demand an AIDS test after we catch our partners stepping out on us, and we don' t use condoms when we know we are having sex with a man who we share. Some of us who are on the pill do not see any reason to ask for a condom for a one-night stand with a man after meeting him at the club.
Middle class women are not immune to this behavior. They have to step up and ask if they are really being safe in their sexual activities. In most relationships we start out using condoms and then, after a while, once the trust factor comes in, we become comfortable so the condoms go away.
We think that because he is a suit and tie kind of a guy, he couldn't possibly have an STD or HIV. After a while, if that relationship doesn't work we take some time to ourselves, maybe a month or two or even a year, then we're at it all over again, never once going to take an HIV test while looking for Mr. Right!
We feel because we have a little more money than most and more "class" that HIV just isn't in our section of the world. Somehow our minds and our egos have told us that middle class is an elite group, while HIV didn't get that memo!
We have dropped the ball on reminding our daughters of their value. We are not helping them to see how powerful their voices are, especially when it comes to their bodies. We cannot address HIV without addressing low self-esteem.
Would a young girl with high self-esteem be able to be talked out of using a condom? Would a young girl with high self-esteem be willing to have sex with no strings attached?
In 2005, girls represented 43 percent of AIDS cases reported among people aged 13 to
19. We cannot ignore the numbers; our girls need help! As women, we need help!
Today, there are approximately 1.1 million people living with HIV/AIDS in the U.S., including nearly 280,000 women. In 2008, there were 9,813 AIDS diagnoses among women. We have to address how we feel about ourselves when making sexual choices that could have a lifelong and lasting effect. We cannot be silent in our relationships on the topic of HIV/AIDS.
"I want to use a condom BUT I don' t want him to think I don' t trust him"; "I want an HIV test BUT I don' t want him to leave me." Whenever we follow with a BUT, we are questioning our own self-worth! We may as well be saying, "I want to protect myself, BUT I'm not worth protecting."
On this day, I ask you to get tested for HIV/AIDS. Knowing your status is power, and early HIV detection can be the difference between life and death. Talk about HIV/AIDS with your sexual partner because if you cannot have an open and honest discussion about it, what does that say about the value you hold for your life?
Also, use social networks for good; post random facts about HIV/AIDS. Every nine-and-a-half minutes a person contracts HIV - your post or tweet can change someone' s life!
For more information, go to hydeiabroadbent.com.