Monday, June 27, 2011

Let's get lifted: Elevate the conversation & get tested!

Dear OneChele, 
I just found out I have HIV and I feel so stupid. I've only been with one guy my entire life so I thought it was okay to have unprotected sex with him. Now I'm in the fight of my life. Is there anything you can do or say to get the word out so that no one else ends up where I am today? Please, please, please speak out and let people know it can happen to them. ~Devastated in Detroit
I don't ever want to get another letter like this one, BougieLand. I almost bawled like a baby reading that. So I've decided to do something about it. I've joined a movement, I hope you'll hop on board with me. Black Women's Health Initiative, in conjunction with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention Act Against AIDS Leadership Initiative is hoping to get (at least) 5000 black women tested for HIV.

Today, June 27 is National HIV Testing Day. Do you know your status and the status of those you "interact" with? No? Why not? Check out some facts:
AIDS is the No. 1 cause of death for black women ages 25 to 44, beating out heart disease,cancer and homicide. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,black women made up 69 percent of AIDS diagnoses among women in 2004 and of all women living with AIDS, 64 percent are estimated to be black. 
Heterosexual transmission is now the most commonly reported mode of HIV transmission among women. Although non-Hispanic blacks constituted 13% of the population of the 32 states during these 4 years, they accounted for more than half (51.3%) of the HIV/AIDS diagnoses, including 68.8% of diagnoses among females and 44.5% of those among males.
Please check out Elevate and learn all you can about the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS. You can follow Elevate at @UElevate2 or hit up their Facebook Page. There's nothing bougie about incurable (and completely preventable) disease. Need to find a testing center? Here's the link.

Step yo’ game up, HIV is nothing to play with. Know your status and stand your ground: no condom, no cocoa.

Join me, won't you? Who's been tested? Who's going this week? Yes, I will be taking roll call. 

57 comments:

Shah said...

You can also text your zip code to
"KNOWIT" (566948) to find a testing center near you.

Yes, I have been tested and know my status. I work in the AIDS service industry at an organization that provides legal services to people living with HIV/AIDS in NYC. I encourage everyone to get tested, it is better to know your status than to be uncertain. If you are negative, you want to know this and to continue protecting yourself. If you are positive, you want to get treatment as early as possible and help prevent the spread.

Unfortunately the stigma still exists, however we can eradicate that with education.

JaymeC said...

We still live in such a denial "It can't happen to me" culture - It's always better to know. Great post Chele. Now I need a "No Condom, No Cocoa" t-shirt please!

Jesse said...

This past weekend, the woman I was "wooing" gave me the old "I hate condoms" speech and don't worry I'm safe shiggity. When I asked to see her test results, she looked at me like I was crazy. No ma'am - you're the crazy one. It's 2011, no glove no love. Period.

William Martin said...

Thanks for highlighting this - I worked a
rotation with Pediatric AIDS patients. I wouldn't wish that on my worst
enemy. Yes the drugs are better, yes the prognosis is not as dim but
like you said - it's still nothing to play with.

Mykeia said...

High five! (Sorry it's the only phrase that came to mind.) Good move!

aisha oaktree1122 said...

i get tested regular I'm one of those who is exposed as a job hazard, we had a nurse have a patient cough all in her face with blood the other day, she's had all the tests and is on the req'd meds now, scary as hell. In the case of cocoa stirring it's preventable, I never understood why people won't do the simple test to find out. It's the longest 15 mins of your life till those test reults come back but it's worth knowing.

Mina B. said...

GREAT POST! This is so important especially in our community. It's amazing how black people feel they are some how immune to HIV/AIDS yet we are the #1 group contracting the disease. Cosigning the #teamnoglovenolove and #gettested

Mykeia said...

HIV is nothing to play with...I am glad that there have been medical breakthroughs but we still don't have a cure...Keeping the faith.
Thanks for the nformation about Black Women's Health Initiative...looking this up soon!
OneChele, spreading the bouge and supporting good causes all day long, keep it up!

JohnKinPDX said...

Yeah well.. so after I found out my ex was borderline skeezy, I went to get tested. I remember when they called me and told me to come in for a conversation. Can you say sleepness night? I was clean but a little anemic. Bruh almost cried in there. Anyway since I don't know how long she was playing around, I plan to get tested every six months. Good times.

MeetCharlieL said...

That damn Tracey was the gift that keeps on giving - sheesh!

MeetCharlieL said...

That damn Tracey was the gift that keeps on giving - sheesh!

MeetCharlieL said...

People are still doing the "Don't worry I'm safe" line?

CaliGirlED said...

Did she really? GTFOH with the I'm safe shiggity!!! *raises hand* I'm shocked that came from a female. Naive much?

If you don't look out for you, no one else will!

Earthangel172 said...

Not that I'm stirring any cocoa but I get tested semi-annually since I have two cousins who have HIV.  #tooclosetohomenottogetested

Gotta make sure everything is on the up and up.

MariSol said...

This same thing happened to my 20 year old cousin. First boyfriend, they were together since she was sixteen and he gave her the "we love each other, we don't need anything between us" line and now she's diagnosed with HIV which wouldn't be completely tragic except she's also diabetic. It was all I could do not to hunt him down and start shooting. Now he's all "since we're both infected, we should stay together" - don't get me started, I could talk about this all day.

MariSol said...

I would love that T-shirt

CaliGirlED said...

Ok Charlie we'll call her that just to be nice!

maureen palmer said...

Great post. Know your status.

CaliGirlED said...

John how did you not cry, dance on top of the desk, skip to your lou all the way home?!! That damn Tracey is a recurring nightmare, Jason and Freddy Crugar don't have anything on her ass!

CaliGirlED said...

Excellent post Chele! I know my status! I'm good, and I plan to stay that way! I'll need to see current test papers please and thank you. Damn a condom, I need to know that you're clean from the jump!

BK said...

Great post.. I know my status.. well I should say we know our status.. thanks for sharing that letter..

rozb said...

We have to keep stressing the fact that AIDS is a consequence of contracting HIV and it can still KILL! Folks are getting complacent because of new so-called breakthroughs, and the fact that more people are living longer and coping with the disease. Notice I said coping. Nothing to celebrate, nothing to dance about. Ask anyone who has AIDS who has lived with it for a long time if they would rather NOT have it, every last one of them would say Hell yeah!

Magic Johnson and the few folks who have disappearing signs of the virus in their systems are the anomaly. The cocktail Magic probably takes on a daily basis and what others endure costs tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, a year just to maintain - the average American cannot afford the top-notch drugs he has access to, nor can just anyone be part of they many studies that can give you pioneering medication to keep you alive and moving forward. It is a tragedy, indeed. And - it doesn't seem like anyone is in a rush to find a cure - just efforts to help you live with it. If we don't stay on top of this, it will be considered just another disease - like herpes or the flu.

Why does it affect me? I lost my dear uncle in 1991 of pneumonia contracted while he had the AIDS virus, and currently, I have a cousin who is living with the virus that she contracted from her former husband, who was an intravenous drug user (notice I said WAS - he died in the late 80s, early 90s). AIDS tears up families, puts futures in jeopardy, and in essence, destroys lives. So, I make it my mission to stay informed, and have compassion for those who have been caught up in the nasty world of HIV and AIDS.

GrownAzzMan said...

I get tested every year as part of my annual physical. Negative.

Grace said...

I'm going today. Thanks for the testing link, there's one 2 miles from my house.

Penny said...

Yes, I have been tested-negative.  Please remind people that young people are not the only people that get/transmit HIV.  A close friend of the family was diagnosed with HIV-she is in her 70's.  Many people equate the need for "glove" with youth-false.

CorettaJG said...

Tested here regularly with the Air Force. Negative.  HIV is no joke for black people, especially here in the DC area.  People need to stop playing around.  More and more professional people are coming up hot on tests for sexually transmitted diseases and HIV.  It's preventable.  SMH.

Amber Hayes Holmes said...

Great post Chele! I live in Washington, DC and the infection rate is absolutely astounding here! Although I am married, hubby and I get tested during annual physicals.

rozb said...

John - at least you are being responsible and taking the precautions. Not to be funny, but have you thrown a hint at her to get checked out herself? I mean, since she is like a Walmart (open 24/7 for err-thang). IDK - kinda keep her from being a Ho-Fi hotspot?

keishabrown said...

thank you for sharing that women can be JUST as irresponsible. dude seem to get the bad-rap on this front all the time...

Brenda Kay said...

Thank you Chele for this sobering letter. Even though I'm not active with anyone, I still got tested earlier  this month and I'm negative. 

keishabrown said...

i get tested every year with physical, or before getting bizzay with a new partner.
we don't have (as far as i know) the speedy tests, here it's the 'no news is good news'
HELL NAW IT AINT!! GIMME THE NEWS!!
*takes caps lock off

Jazzy Jazz said...

Do I know my status: yep. Have I been tested - no. Im not sexually active either.

I have lost 2 people in my life to AIDS. A friend of the family had it. And my former mentor had it because her ex husband was a low down dirty cheater.

I plan on volunteering at an AIDS clinic- and eventually helping in other countries too.

To my sister in that letter- so sorry to hear about that. It honestly makes my blood boil that someone would be that selfish.

CaliGirlED said...

 Devasted in Detroit, keep your head up and follow medical instructions so that you will live as normal a life as possible. And not all men are like this one, so don't give up on having a love life!

David Chase said...

Madam La Bouge had us get tested this afternoon. She posted it here: http://hearditallbefore.tumblr.com/post/6987208316/natltestingday

Trey Charles said...

I admit I was nervous as hell. As Chele said - you think you know but you don't really know until you know. #thismakessense

Rob said...

That damn Tracey... I hadn't even thought about that.

GrownAzzMan said...

*DEAD* at "Ho-Fi hotspot"? I quit you for life!

DFig said...

I loved this post!  One of my best friends in high school lost her dad and then her mom because her pops creeped with some woman on the side and brought home HIV.  PLUS, when he found out he didn't tell her mom right away.  It was DEVASTATING!  Death at that age and for that reason just doesn't make sense!  We couldn't wrap our minds around it and it took YEARS for her and her little sister to adjust (plus her aunt---her mom's baby sister--who was 25 at the time had to step up and raise two kids!  Ruined a whole family).
I say all of that to say: if you even sorta, kind, maybe think that your husband/wife is cheating then get tested ASAP and then wrap it up or discuss it.  If your trust is lost in your marriage make sure you don't lose you life too!  

sol_dier said...

Great post and poignant. 
Few yrs ago, I dated a dude who didn't know his status, when asked he went through a range of emotions/excuses. 
From: 'I'm clean' -> I chose clean people -> who do you think you are -> you want me to do that? don't you trust me - > you are making me feel dirty -> I can't believe you want me to do that just to be with you -> you know it doesn't mean anything, you can still catch something else -> I haven't slept with any white women -> I'm not gay, don't worry O_O .

2nd dating story, 
Dude I thought was it. Chocolate God,  had the sweetest power bike which got him stopped and admired by the 'po-po', health nut, cooked up a storm, brilliant dude, waaay older than me. Coolest dude i have ever been around with one exception. I got really tired of his condom complaints.

From: 'don't like the feel' -> gives him a rash -> not big enough (oh puhlease! erm u ain't kingkong dude) ->'it feels different' -> I'm older I've had my wild days -> I'm shooting blanks, can't make u pregnant!!!

Looked at him sweetly and poof! like Kaiser Soze it was like we never existed.No words, no questions.. i just got ghost. There is a certain level of stupidity that needs no response nor retort. 

Carey Jackson said...

My best friend's ex-husband has full blown AIDS. We have no idea why she was spared but three years later she's still clean. She has heard from three other women that he infected. SMDH

Carey Jackson said...

It's no joke in Chicago too. Just crazy!

Mykeia said...

Oh my...that is so tragic.  It sounds like he is ex for a serious reason.

tiffanyinhouston said...

Excellent post. Thanks for sharing the information. WE (hubs and I) are good.

JojoRaze said...

You are right about this...Too many seniors are getting infected.  It is so bad in NYC that they have an ad campaign with people over 50 telling them that "Age is not a Condom."  They also have sexual prevention courses in the senior citizen homes because the AIDS rate among those over 50 is increasing... 

I'm very glad Chele published this; a very sober-minded and timely post.   I didn't know today was National AIDS Testing Day. I'm not sexually active but I will get tested, though. 

CaliGirlED said...

 You already quit Roz for life. You quitting her in death? LOL

Malikah A. Shabazz said...

No condom, no cocoa. I love it!!

GammasWorld said...

Great post.  That is all.  Devastated, my heart (imperfect as it may be) goes out to you.  Keep up the fight my sister.  Thank you for reaching out to Chele.  

Violet Rose said...

Great post. So important!

C Nelson said...

That ... sounds suspiciously like an abusive situation where he might have infected her knowingly to make sure she'd stay with him 'cause it'd be hard for her to find someone else.  :(

sol_dier said...

Hey Jazzy,  
My very first HIV test was done before I was sexually active as HIV isn't just a sexually transmitted disease.  I did it because even then i wanted it to be part of my annual check up and because I had no way of knowing if there had been a careless medical mishap in my childhood.

AS OneChele said: 'You don’t know until you know… get tested!

Bernadettehills said...

Are you folks tested anonymously in the States or is it a routine test?  I ask because so much of you seem to have had it done.  Over in the UK it used to seriously hamper your chances of getting insured if you even went for an HIV/AIDS (not sure if this has changed significantly in recent years).  Therefore, you either had to attend an STD clinic anonymously (which is pretty hard to do where I live as there is only one such clinic in the area) or you may have been tested if you had to go into hospital for an op.

AndreaPlaid said...

I apologize for being late for the roll call, Contessa of Bouge, but put me under the 'got tested" column. I was tested on Black HIV/AIDS Day back on 2/10/11. The test came back negative. (I also carry my paperwork in my calendar.)

And forget what will.i.am said: no woman is "tacky" for having condoms (male and female) in her home. In this particular case, "tacky" and safe is the bouge.

AndreaPlaid said...

Hey Bernadettehills! Thanks to a *lot* of activism around HIV/AIDS, there are quite a few places in the US where someone can get anonymously tested. For quite a few of USians, finding an HIV testing site is as simple as this: http://www.hivtest.org/    Doctors' offices also offer the tests, too. 

AndreaPlaid said...

A really good pal, Jasmine Burnett from SisterSong NYC, wrote a piece about a phenonemon of the "Happy Meal" and the spread of HIV in some senior communities.  It was eye-opening to me, to say the least:  http://www.hivresearchcatalystforum.org/blog/irony-%E2%80%9Chappy-meal%E2%80%9D-sex-woman-60-and-hiv

Brneyed1 said...

My heart aches at the thought....but I could see it happening.

MsJamie14 (CaliSlim) said...

Wonderful reminder. I didn't get tested on June 27, but I get tested regularly. Been fortunate to attract guys who think protection is sexy too. Met one who didn't, he got to experience a gal getting ghost on his behind.

No condom, no cocoa: very good for us in the dating world. Very sad for those who contract it from their own spouses. *smh*

C Nelson said...

Sadly, I have no reason to be tested this week; long distance relationships suck that way. I've had no intimate physical contact since the fiance's last visit, and the panel of tests for my visa application since that time all turned up negative, just as they ought to. I'm paranoid anyway; we both took initial STD tests before the first visit happened.

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