AIDS

Recently, Charlie Sheen announced that he is HIV positive. I wasn't really all that surprised by his announcement because all the other news before this about him has been about he really really likes to party. You can't live that kind of lifestyle not expect it to take a toll on your body. I just think that we've forgotten that the toll can be steeper than an antibiotic treatable STD. I am always curious as to why that is. Why is it we forget about HIV/AIDS? Sitcoms play up the other STDs all the time. Herpes, Crabs. I'm pretty sure I heard someone refer to both of them this week while watching some crappy show. No one on TV gets HIV. No one in the movies has AIDS. Well, unless you're watching something on Africa. In fact I know some people believe that AIDS is an Africa problem, like malaria. It's not something that happens here. 

The rate of infection of HIV in the US has remained steady at 50,000 a year for about a decade now. Remains steady. That statistic makes my brain itch. I am confused by it. If we know how to prevent virus transmission, why hasn't that number dropped? I don't know what we are teaching kids today in school about safe sex. I can only assume that we are telling them as little as possible. I hear the news and I know that I am within walking distance to a school district that teaches abstinence only. HIV/AIDS has become a closed conversation, but not talking about it doesn't mean that it isn't still a problem. Safe sex is more than just protecting yourself from an unwanted pregnancy. Don't do drugs is more than just a campaign about the dangers of putting chemicals in your body. When we talk about the risks involved in unprotected sex or sharing needles, we have to include all of the risks. 

Today is World AIDS Day. It shows up pretty prominently in my feed because of my involvement with the Kansas City AIDS Walk. It has nothing to do with raising money, though it's nice if you want to throw some money that way. It's not about having a reason to walk or walking. This is a day to celebrate those living with HIV, remember those who have lost their fight with AIDS, unite in fight against HIV and to continue that conversation. Talk about the risks. Talk about how AIDS is totally preventable. Talk about taking care of yourself. Talk about having enough self worth to want to take care of yourself, to want to be safe.