by E. Johnson Cooper
You’re a good girl. Good as good can be. You’re on your *ish and hold no punches. When you meet this new guy you’re surprised he has you so smitten. He’s handsome. Maybe not the finest guy but he’s got a certain je ne sais quoi that has you slightly excited. He’s even been sending you that ‘good morning’ text lately that puts a smile on your face. 🙂
You’ve been kicking it for about a month- or so when he invites you back to his place after a night of dinner, drinks and hanging out with friends. You consider it an okay move, after all you have been spending quite a bit of time together, he’s good on paper-no red flags yet anyway- and his friends are super cool. Back at his place he’s the perfect gentleman: takes your coat, offers you a glass of wine and lets you pick the movie that will end up watching you shortly as you all relax on the couch.
He pulls you close. You spoon on his comfy sectional. “This is safe,’ you think to yourself, ‘but this is as far as we’ll go.” He kisses the back of your neck. Damn. How did he know to go kiss there? But you’re no fool. You know, just like every man, he wants to have sex- eventually. You haven’t quite decided if you’re up for it yet but the mix of all night drinking, relative comfort, space and opportunity, allows that kiss to the back of your neck to lead to a great night of…great relations.
The next morning you start to put the evening back together. You remember the good time, the drinks, that damn kiss but what you can’t remember is if you took your pill last night- or the night before. You can’t remember if he used a condom because you were both so gone. But you do know things happened and you try not to over think. At best there’s Plan B. At worst, well you won’t even think about at worst. So you head to CVS to grab Plan B. That is that.
A month or two later you’re still going strong with ol boy. In fact, you think he’s going to be a keeper. Especially since he’s been at your beck and call the last few days helping you nurse a cold you caught after the temperature decided to drop unexpectedly. For some reason chicken soup, tea, lemon and Tylenol aren’t cutting this battle so you make an appointment with your Dr. Your appointment is routine. You seem to have a bad case of the flu so the Dr. prescribes you a few meds and sends you packing. Except you’re not getting any better so you make yet another appointment. This time the Dr. wants to run a few tests to make sure you don’t have walking pneumonia, acute bronchitis or anything else. In fact, to cover all your bases the Dr. asks if they can draw blood just to make sure. Sure, no problem you think. You just want to get rid of this cold.
A few days later the Dr. calls you in to tell you your cold is actually your body’s inability to fight a cold because you immune system is down. “Down? What do you mean?,” you ask. He tells you that a side effect of HIV is catching and keeping colds easier and longer than a person whose t-cell count is up. “Wait. But I don’t have HIV! I have a cold”, you defensively and angrily tell him. You learn that that was your Dr.’s segway to telling you, your blood results came back positive for the virus that causes AIDS. He goes on to tell you about all the meds that are out now that make living with the virus possible. In other words, HIV is not a death sentence. He suggests a few HIV counselors in your area, and writes you a prescription for your first cocktail. …At some point the Dr.’s voice became something like the Peanut Gang in Charlie Brown, womp, womp, womp.
All you know is now you are HIV positive and you’re not even 30 years old.
Denial is an easy route to take at first but you know how this happened. Six months ago before the new guy, you tested negative. You know this because you’re religious about your health. After every relationship you get tested so you KNOW your status- or did anyway. In fact, you’ve never had a STD in your life but now….well…yeah.
At no point did you think to ask his status that first night- or any night after. He didn’t seem like a guy who would even be out there like that. You meant to have the ‘have you been tested’ conversation but, it just never came up. So now what? Do you confront your dude? Maybe it really wasn’t him after all? Do you tell your mother? Do you tell your bestie?
The only person who can answer any of these questions is 28 year old, Marvelyn Brown. At 19, her life went down something like the hypothetical story I just placed you in. Crazy, right? But it’s so true. How many times have you gotten caught up in a situation very similar to what I described above? We think knowing if the guy is dating someone else is enough. No. We need to start asking to see his papers- his test result papers. We aren’t asking our partners the right questions.
Marvelyn represents a very common story in our generation- more than any of us want to admit. HIV doesn’t just prey on heauxs and flagrant dudes. It goes where ever we allow it to go- including good girls and nice guys. Today Marvelyn is an advocate for HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention- particularly with black millennials. We think it can’t happen to us, but oh- it can and it will unless we start acting smart.
Tomorrow is World AIDS Day. The theme this year is: “Working Together for an AIDS-Free Generation.” When I hear generation I think our generation- the millennial generation. We are 18- 30, coming into our own in a variety of ways. Since we’re all grown here, sex is one of those ways. But we have to be smarter. The number one way to be smarter and proactive is to get tested so when we engage in sexual behaviors we aren’t recklessly spreading this virus like wild fire.
Here are a few links to tell you where you can get tested in your area:
Find a Testing Site In Your Area or you can also send a text message with your ZIP code to “KNOWIT” (566948)
If you’re looking for a few events happening tomorrow, check these out:
Artists for Charity’s 6th Annual Holiday Benefit – Artists for Charity invites you to the 6th Annual Holiday Benefit and Art Auction. This year the benefit will be held on World AIDS Day. How will you show your support for people living with HIV/AIDS?
This year AFC will feature artwork from local and international artists. 100% of all proceeds go to the AFC Children’s Home, which cares for double orphaned HIV positive children.
“HIV is not an adjective so it does not define me. I think MARVELOUS would be more appropriate. I am not living with HIV. HIV is living with me. “