An Education in STDs: HIV/AIDS

courtesy/yoshime.com

courtesy/yoshime.com

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.

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7 responses to “An Education in STDs: HIV/AIDS

  1. Ok so let’s get this out of the way; while I pretty much agree with all you wrote , the simple fact of the matter is that using condoms during sex blows! (no pun intended…….well maybe just a little intended)

    I hate condoms…..you’d have to speak for how it is for the woman, but for the guy it feels so impersonal, like Bowie Mandela refusing to shaking hands with someone unless your wearing latex gloves.

    Have you read about the success stories this past year that doctors have had with getting the HIV virus out of people’s systems? It’s also important to mention that people with HIV now have the same life expectancy as the average non-infected person nowadays, they’ve come a long way in treating it……

    Anther problem with condoms is that they really only work if u use them during all frms of sex; I.e. oral sex also……and condoms during oral sex is just too darn strange. This isn’t to say I disagree with what you wrote, only to point out that I suspect the average guy is like me; they hate wearing condoms.

    P.s. are you pretty slammed with work and all? The reason I was asking is that I really want to do a second blog with one or more people that focuses more on world news commentary; I.e. news that people all over the (English speaking) world would be interested in….I’ve emailed Huffington Post more than a dozen times to be a contributor on their world news section and they always blow me off….so I keep thinking maybe I should just see if a few people would be interested in doing one.

    It seems like there is definitely a need for world news commentary cuz when I go to huff post, ny times online, drudge report, and Washington post….I swear 50 % of their news is celebrity news on their home page…..I read Andrew Sullivan a lot and he has a pretty good blog (and he’s making a ton of money off it I might add!)….well if your interested in brainstorming just send me an email (Kenneth.justice77@gmail.com) I can message people via Facebook anymore unless they message me first (cause I changed my fb to a page) otherwise I would of just fb’d u 🙂

    • LOL im glad you clarified that because i was trying to figure out if you meant nelson mandela or david bowie or some weird combination.

      okay – yes i always hear about men hating condoms, even some women do. honestly… i really can’t tell the difference lol *shrug* but that’s part of why im saying they’re working hard to make condoms “interesting” haha. they’re working to create sensation because it allegedly lessens sensation. but i would also say that yes i do realize lots of progress has been made… BUT it’s still a deadly disease. im also not totally sure just how expensive those medications are or how available they really are to the average joe person. maybe more than i think but still. personally, i would just rather stay disease free period regardless of the situation. i’d rather “sacrifice” being a lil’ less personal to keep myself healthy. plus im not sure i’d like the idea of young people having to live such long lives like that. plus that’s for this country, poor countries don’t necessarily have those resources, etc.

      as for you kenneth… im going to assume that since you’re married that you don’t have to use condoms (that birth control would be plenty). *wink* im mostly referring to those who are still active for one reason or another.

      as for the rest… sure… i’ll get on board. i’ll have to get better about reading more and being more up to date with things before commenting, but that would be good for me. 🙂 i’ll shoot ya an email.

  2. yea….i know i sound like a broken record but condoms really do suck….and be honest; what girl really wants to give oral sex while the guy is wearing a condom?? it would make her feel like a hooker! lol but that would be the only way to ensure that no disease would get passed….and i’ve never heard of any girls using condoms during oral sex.

    • and that would be why plenty of young girls were more and more getting gonorrhea in their mouths!!! im sorry but that’s gross. a hooker if she uses a condom? really? hmm i dunno about that one. seems like it would be the opposite to me. i understand what you’re saying but my point is we need to get over that business because it’s not worth the risks. being too “personal” is how disease is spread. making it ever so slightly less personal is a benefit to everyone including babies. disease can spread to babies via the birth canal and that’s not right/fair. i can’t imagine starting life out like that. again… gonorrhea… in the mouth?!?!? lol *shivers* i guess i can’t relate because like i said… i really honestly can’t tell the difference b/w wearing and not wearing one. i guess im not very sensitive LOL 🙂 oh well.

  3. Jen, I don’t disagree with ya at all about the risk of STD if ya don’t use a condom…..I just can’t imagine couples using condoms during oral sex…..i’ve been trying to dance around the subject w/o being graphic but a condom kind of prevents the goals of certain elements of oral sex if ya know what I mean……and in all the counseling I did, whenever i asked any of the guys about using a condom during oral sex they always looked at me strangely and more than one guy said, “like with a hooker??”

    • well i understand the whole oral sex bit and how silly it seems and perhaps it is…until you have some icky disease in your mouth lol. i guess then what i would say is… no to oral until you know or can be comfortable that the partner is “clean” and condom use otherwise. i mean i can’t dictate to people what they do… my post is really just to get people thinking about it and to be more cautious. i absolutely understand what you’re saying, i do. i’d be a liar if i said i didn’t think it was silly for condom use during oral also but my overriding point is that it needs to be considered given that you can get diseases via oral sex. i suppose i’d also say consideration of condom use during oral is more about “couples” who haven’t been dating very long or people who just want to move from partner to partner, no strings attached. the more partners you have the more risk there is. i wouldn’t think a stable, mutually monogamous couple would need to use a condom for oral. as for the whole hooker thing… i would advise just not going there lol but maybe that’s just me. 🙂

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