My last entry like this virtually didn’t see the light of day. From what I see on here… not a single soul read it. I suppose this could be for many reasons. I realize just having the name Gonorrhea in the title is enough to put anyone off. There’s also the fact it’s a bit trite. It’s been written about many times already. Oh well. I felt a need to discuss it because in my experiences, what I hear, I still feel people don’t understand or don’t care. I can’t help but feel it’s still an important topic to discuss. I also realize that it’s just not a topic many people want to talk about.
I get it. It’s uncomfortable and perhaps maybe I also took a little too “preachy” of an attitude or something. That was not my intention. Maybe it was the title itself. I was going to write a few of these on a few different diseases but because I fell so flat on the last one, I’ll only do the two.
This post may very well also go unread, which is upsetting because the whole idea is to get the conversation going and to encourage others to get informed. Information is so important especially when such terrible diseases are all around. I hope the lack of reading isn’t because I’ve isolated my readers. That’s the last thing I want to do. I do, however, still feel it important to talk about these topics because just shutting our eyes to something uncomfortable doesn’t work. I apologize in advance if this makes you uncomfortable. I suppose in some ways that’s good. If we get too comfortable with the notion these diseases are around, then we’ll never get around to addressing the problem and they’ll always be with us.
I’m sure we’ve all done it – shut our eyes and said “well if I can’t see it, then I can’t be seen.” It’s our “invisibility” cloak. Well, unfortunately these diseases don’t work like that. It’s going to happen whether we choose to look at it or not. I choose to look, if you will. It is uncomfortable but that discomfort will hopefully eventually lead to solutions, not more fear or anger. Education is so important in knowing how to protect ourselves, often times, from ourselves and our usual self-destructive behaviors (i.e. – sharing needles, unprotected sex with multiple partners, etc).
The Human Immunodeficiency Virus, HIV, is one scary disease. At least I was really scared of it when I learned of it in school. I grew up with storied like Ryan White and others. Let me just say – what Ryan White went through was terrible and was a prime example of how not being educated hurts us all. But for me, what was scary was the slow decline in health and eventually succumbing to it. Knowing there’s no cure, yet, is the other part. It continues to get worse until it develops into the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.
Generally speaking, HIV is transmitted sexually. Oral sex can be a mode of transmission, though according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it’s not as common. The CDC has a list of common and not-so-common ways the disease is transmitted. I suppose I don’t need to go over what I’d like to think is common knowledge now about HIV. I would still say it never hurts to review because as times have changed, new or updated information is available. Apparently, I’ve learned this pretty recently, there are two strands of HIV. This illustrates my point – there’s more information coming out and it’s worth knowing and understanding this information.
A few things to note:
• The CDC reports that in 2009 – there was an estimated 1.1 million people living with the HIV infection in the U.S., including 207,600 (18.1 percent) persons whose conditions hadn’t been diagnosed.
• CDC estimates about 50,000 people are newly infected each year. That above said number, is most likely larger now. CDC estimated that 47,500 new infections occurred by the end of 2010.
• In 2011, the CDC estimated there to be approximately 49,273 new cases with nearly 39,000 of those being male and about 10,000 in females.
• The largest group of infected people (according to the CDC) is people age 20-24. As a whole, the most infected is from 20 – 34.
There’s a lot of information out there about this, so I won’t go on and on with those statistics. I guess part of why I feel a need to talk about this is because it sure seems like what I hear is that people don’t want to talk about it, but if it’s not then how can we learn and protect ourselves?
The other thing I hear often is how people hate to use condoms. Well, folks, the above statistic says it all if you ask me. People 20-34 are the ones getting the highest number of infections. This makes sense because they’re probably the ones that are most sexually active or into drugs. So many take the attitude that they can’t get it; that they’re invincible but I have news for you… you’re not. Unlike humans, HIV/AIDS doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t care about your age, who you love, the color of your skin, etc. It just needs a body to live in and yours is as good as any other.
Medications have come around and people are living longer and doing better than they used to with HIV/AIDS. The end result hasn’t changed though. It’s just been delayed. I want to be clear – there’s no judgement being passed here; there’s no preconceived notions (at least none intentionally) being passed on, etc. I care about people and I care about this. I just feel it can’t be ignored. Just because it’s been around a while, doesn’t mean we can afford to ignore it, sweep it under the rug or get “used to it” in a way that means not continually paying attention. There are still too many people living and dying this way. Too many people who are passing it along who don’t know they are, etc., to look the other way.
Please take care of yourselves. Trojan and many other companies are working too hard to make condoms “interesting” to use the excuses for not using them anymore. Your health and livelihood should also be good enough reasons to take care in your various activities. Please, also, get tested. So many of these diseases, especially HIV/AIDS, don’t just suddenly reveal themselves. Who knows who is being exposed by those folks who simply don’t know they have it.