It’s World AIDS Day, and while the disease is still an international issue, in the United States, Black women are contracting the HIV virus at a faster rate than any other demographic group.
While it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly why that is, few people feel totally comfortable asking potential lovers to go to the clinic before they spend the night together.
Sister 2 Sister asked life coach and therapist Monica Greene to help make that discussion a little easier. When should you first bring it up? What if he’s not exactly responsive? She answers the questions below.
Tracy: How do you go about introducing the topic of HIV testing?
Monica: Men generally bring up the sex question first, so when they begin to talk about the subject with you, then your reply or response is, "Let’s go get checked and we can do whatever. I need you to go get yourself checked, so we can get a safe, healthy sex life."
Tracy: So you bring it up, and he acts like he didn’t hear you. Now what?
Monica: Move forward and get your own test done. Show your test to your partner and ask him to do the same. Look out for yourself first. The first priority is health. Follow your mind, not your heart. People oftentimes will put themselves on the back burner and then afterward find out all of these horrible things that could have been prevented.
Tracy: Why do you think it’s difficult for some women to bring up the topic of getting tested or even wearing protection?
Monica: Women’s self-esteem, or their lack thereof. They make those unhealthy decisions because of low self-worth. Women are having unprotected sex in relationships that are violent physically, verbally, emotionally. Women are making decisions based on their financial needs, their loneliness, their lack of self-worth, instead of thinking of themselves first, their health and being in a holistic view of thinking of themselves.
Tracy: Do you think some women are just unrealistic in thinking that it can’t happen to them?
Monica: I see young women in the emergency room all the time who have made those decisions. A part of that could be, "Let me just take this chance. I’ll just do it this one time." Then whoops, there you go. It’s something that you’ll live with for the rest of your life … the shame and the guilt and the remorse of, "Wow, I really should have thought before I did this." I’ve had real-life clients who have put themselves in this predicament. Now, they have to explain to every partner thereafter.
Tracy: It sounds easy, but obviously sisters aren’t saving sex for men who’ve shown them clean test results. What if he refuses to go?
Monica: Be able to walk away. Nothing is worth your life. If he won’t do it, there is someone who will. That’s your valued person. If he’s choosing not to get an exam, he’s not the right match.