Message from Montie

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December 1 is World AIDS Day, How does this National STD Awareness Day effect you?

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Message from Montie

Shamontiel is the author of two novels: "Change for a Twenty" and "Round Trip." Check her out at shamontiel.com.

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Photo by Shamontiel, condom collection from BEHIV

A few days ago, I received a card in the mail from the AIDS Foundation of Chicago. I've spoken to several college classes about safe sex and volunteered to help raise money for HIV/AIDS Awareness over the years, on top of writing "Round Trip," so this card caught my attention. On the front of the card, there's a red ribbon on the front of one of the buildings in the Chicago skyline. Underneath the skyline, it says "Imagine..." and "...our world without AIDS" is printed in the inside flap. Powerful card. And with your help on World AIDS Day and every other day of the year, we can all help fight this disease. 

 

World AIDS Day is around the corner on December 1, and worldwide there will be different locations honoring this important day. The CNA building in the loop honors this day with a red ribbon and the words "Fight AIDS" that is easily viewable from Lake Shore Drive. So what does this have to do with you?

 

On Friday, October 30, President Barack Obama signed the Ryan White HIV/AIDS CARE Act and stated, "there are still 1.1 million people living with HIV/AIDS in the United States and more than 56,000 new infections that occur every single year." While you may not be one of the 56,000 that currently have HIV/AIDS, fatal STDs such as this one can hit you or anyone around you at any point and time. This is why safe sex is so important in your sexual relationships.

 

And no safe sex is 100 percent. Even in a committed relationship, married people are also a growing number to find out that they have HIV/AIDS from a cheating partner. Even the Obamas got tested for HIV/AIDS to prove that it's okay to do so.

 

If you're interested in being tested and you live in the Chicago area, here are some commonly asked questions and answers about HIV/AIDS testing.

 

If I use condoms and birth control pills, why do I need to be tested?

Birth control pills do not prevent STDs. You must use a combination of both female or male condoms with birth control patches or pills if you want to prevent unwanted pregnancy and STDs at the same time. However, none of these contraceptives are 100 percent. There's also an issue with using the wrong type of condoms or putting condoms on incorrectly. Click here for condom wear tips.

 

I don't have health insurance, so how much do I have to pay for HIV/AIDS testing?

There are countless locations in the Illinois area that have free HIV/AIDS testing, including BEHIV. GetTestedChicago.com has a listing of free or low-cost HIV/AIDS testing areas in Chicago. Some HIV/AIDS testing centers will have a waiting period of 10 to 15 days while others, like BEHIV, will give you results within 10 to 15 minutes.

 

How does HIV/AIDS effect black women?

According to the Center for Disease Control 2007 statistics, blacks account for 51 percent of the 42,655 new HIV/AIDS diagnoses; the most common method for black women to get HIV/AIDS was from heterosexual sex and 67 percent of African-American did not know they were HIV positive. So if 67 percent of African-American, HIV/positive men don't know they have HIV/AIDS and a black woman has unprotected sex with him, she has a higher risk of getting the disease.

 

Why do I need to get tested for HIV/AIDS if I'm in a committed relationship?

According to InfidelityFacts.com, 57 percent of men and 54 percent of women admit to infidelity in a relationship, and 74 percent of men and 68 percent of women said they would commit infidelity if they wouldn't get caught. Although statistics for marriages with HIV/AIDS are more readily available in African countries, the United States cannot be excluded. One prime and public examples is former basketball player Magic Johnson who is HIV positive and married to Cookie Johnson. In August 2009, the Illinois Department of Public Health reported that although there were 7,062 new cases of HIV/AIDS from men who have sex with men, 1,111 men got HIV/AIDS from injection drug use and 511 were heterosexual. IDPH also reported that 708 women got HIV/AIDS from injection drug use and 1,514 from heterosexual relationships. Undetermined cases of 2,039 men and 1,237 women could not be categorized, which means it could be a number of factors in just August alone.

 

I've never been tested for HIV/AIDS. What is it like?

In the article, "Getting Tested for HIV/AIDS," AC Source Writer Shamontiel gives a detailed account of her experience being tested for HIV/AIDS the first time at BEHIV.

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