By: Amanda Anderson
As a race, we hear so many negative statistics that portray African Americans as a race full of sexually ignorant people, who have no interest in protecting ourselves from sexually transmitted diseases and mastering the use of birth control. I like most African Americans find myself angry, appalled, and frankly tired of having the same numbers thrown in my face when I have managed to not become a victim to any STD or any mishaps with birth control. While I may know a few single mothers, in no way shape or form can the statistics serve as real day representation of I or any of the other black women in my life. Am I a special case or does the media have a hidden agenda with a purpose to shape our mentalities into one that does not feel the need to take sex seriously? Which one is it?
You can believe the statistics or question them, but it won’t change the fact that we all need to ask ourselves a few questions that could ultimately save our lives.
1. How much do you really value your life?
Let’s be frank about the dangers of sex. Every time we engage in sexual intercourse without using any form of protection (and I mean condoms), we are literally playing the game of Russian Roulette with our own lives. I know love is believed to conquer all, but it won’t and simply cannot conquer AIDS or HIV. Love yourself as much as you love your partner and always wear a condom. There are even female condoms out here, and it wouldn’t be a bad idea to use both male and female condoms since there is a greater chance that a male condom will break.
That one time that you decide to go “raw” is all you need to catch AIDS. Have you ever heard of a virgin catching AIDS or getting pregnant her first time? I have.
2. What’s your sex IQ?
We all had to take those long, awkward, and brutally honest Sex Ed courses. But if you are like most people, you probably didn’t pay too much attention at the time. I can admit I’ve had several courses, but the information was so overwhelming, I found myself researching Sexually Transmitted Diseases on my own. Frankly put, if you are sexually active, you should be knowledgeable of all the risks that are associated with sex. I hear so many ignorant things when it comes to STDs, it frightens me. Only those who educate themselves (and protect themselves) are less likely to contract Sexual Transmitted Diseases.
3. You do know unprotected oral sex is just as risky as unprotected sexual intercourse, right?
Not to sound patronizing, but I have encountered plenty of people that seem to believe that somehow oral sex is safe enough to do without protection. Wrong! Just like intercourse, bodily fluids are exchanged when you engage in oral sex. You can contract AIDS and any other STD simply through oral sex alone. So ladies, use a dental dam, and don’t let him talk you out of using a condom for him as well. Oral sex isn’t worth losing your life.
4. How often do you get tested for AIDS and other STDs?
If you are sexually active, you need to make sure you are tested regularly. And by regularly, I mean every six months. Doctors suggest those who are sexually active get tested every six months because there are many cases in which AIDS will not be evident in testing until six months in. So it is totally possible for testing to show that you are negative, only to show that you have contracted the disease six months later on the second visit.
Even if you are no longer sexually active, you should still get tested annually.
5. Do you require paper work (proof) before you begin a sexual relationship?
Condoms break all the time. As women, we can’t simply rely on a piece of rubber to save our lives. We also have to take matters into our own hands. Don’t be afraid to ask your partner to prove their status before beginning a sexual relationship, and putting some papers in your hands.
And to be honest, it’s actually smarter to get tested with your partner. If you and your partner get tested together, you both will receive real time results together. You will know their status and they will know yours. Throughout the relationship, continue to get tested together.
6. Are you using birth control?
Birth control is a great way to prevent unplanned pregnancies. There are so many kinds on the market, so you should be sure to speak with a doctor to find one that works best for you and your situation. Like most forms of birth control, it takes a high level of responsibility on your end to make sure you are taking it correctly. If you fail to do so, you stand the risk of getting pregnant if you are not using condoms. So be smart and use condoms in addition to oral contraceptives. Your partner might make you feel like both are not needed, but oral contraceptives do not protect you from STDs.
7. Casual, Committed, or Abstinence?
In a perfect world, we would all wait until we are married to have sex. We would stay married and commit ourselves to our relationships, and divorce would not even exist. But we don’t live in a perfect world. Most of us don’t wait until marriage to have sex and there are some of us that believe we’d rather have a causal sex life.
All of these options come with risks, but the facts show that those who participate in casual encounters have a greater chance of catching STDs and even Cervical Cancer.
The world around you may make it seem like everybody is having sex, and they just might be, but make a decision that you feel is best for you. If you choose to hold out on sex, don’t let anyone make you feel inferior for doing so. If you choose to wait until you are in a committed relationship, make sure you find a partner who will respect your decision. And if you rather have casual affairs, be sure to protect yourself and be aware of all the risks that come with casual lifestyles.
If you’re going to say you’re fabulous, be fabulous.
Don’t treat sex lightly, even if around else around you does. Who knows, your ability to see sex differently could even save your life.