…because when I was younger, AIDS and HIV in general were mysteries to me and many of my friends. It was considered the “gay” disease by many of our relatives and elders. With such widespread ignorance on the topic, I didn’t receive full education on the topic until I was well into my teenage years.

Where I grew up, I knew a few men and women who were diagnosed with full-blown AIDS. As a result of ignorance about the disease, they were all shunned by their family and community. The men were automatically called horrible names like, “faggot”, and immediately thought of as being secretly gay, while the women were called “fag lovers”, “weak” and “slut”. I’ll never forget how angry it made me feel as I heard these words. I also didn’t think that it was proper to call sick people names but I didn’t know how to argue my points. Even today, those words of hate stir anger but I’m happy to report that I do have the words to fight back. Why?

Thankfully, there is now more education on the topic of AIDS prevention and how to live a normal life after being diagnosed with HIV. While there are still several parts of the country where the three letters of “HIV” are met with ignorant comments, innuendos and hate, I am hopeful that with projects and continued awareness by “Rock the Red Pump for National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day”, the hate and ignorance will continuously get beaten down and eventually disappear. One can hope, right? 🙂 My opinion is that with hope and the changing one person at a time, starting with self, we can fix any problem.

Remember, don’t take chances with your health! Insist on safe sex I’m looking at all of you – both men and women!. Get tested regularly. Do not be embarrassed to talk about your life, habits and practices with your health provider, that’s why they’re there. If they’re good at their jobs, they’ll love to help you stay healthy and safe. If they suck at their jobs, tell ’em to kick rocks and find someone  you can talk to, and someone who doesn’t make you ashamed of yourself, your body and your life. You’re paying them so don’t pay for nothing.

As we now know, this isn’t a disease that affects only one group or type of person – it can affect anyone. Mothers, talk with your children, the boys and girls! Prevention and awareness are the best ways to stay safe and healthy.

For more information, see: http://www.theredpumpproject.org/.



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