Unshelved by Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum
comic strip overdue media

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

I read the White House blog

and today they shared some statistics regarding AIDS, it being World AIDS day. The scariest one to me was that (in the US at least), according to the CDC, '21% of HIV-positive people don’t know that they are infected'.

That's one in five people who are unaware that they are potentially passing it on. One in five people who could be getting life-extending drugs early on.

Some people know they should be tested, but are afraid to do so. Some people have no clue that they should be. But it's not a bad idea for anyone. I've been through two HIV tests in my life (not counting the numerous ones when I give blood--you should never give blood just to get tested). The tests are often anonymous. They're safe. They're handled much better than in the early days of AIDS. (One person I know went to get one and a lady shouted across the room asking where she should send him for his AIDS test). Counseling is available, especially from the public health department. When I had my last one I knew that I was latex allergic, and they sent me home with latex-free condoms.

If you are sexually active (even if you think you're in a monogamous relationship), you should get tested. [I knew someone who got herpes from her husband, and he tried to blame her, even though she'd been a virgin at marriage and had never had an affair]. If you've ever done intravenous drug use, get tested. If you've ever gone to a prostitute, get tested. If you've ever been given a blood transfusion, especially before the 1990s, get tested. If you've had a needle stick at work, get tested. If you meet any criteria of risk, get tested. And do practise safer sex. Condoms should be a fact of life unless you're completely abstinent or trying to have a baby, in my book. There are alternatives to latex for those allergic. There are dental dams for oral sex. The public health department can recommend whatever you need.

Take care of yourself. Take care of those you love. And maybe, just maybe, we can beat HIV/AIDS.

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