Whew, the first time I got tested for STDs. Almost 20 yrs ago and I was crazy embarrassed as I parked my car at the clinic. I took a deep breath, shut the door, and walked in. I didn’t think I was at risk for anything, but I’d never been tested before so didn’t know what to expect. I made my appointment 45 minutes away from home so I could avoid running into someone I knew. The nurse walked in the room wearing a pale, yellow jacket, and her attitude was straight nasty. Great. Safe to say Nurse Ratchet missed class when they taught good bedside manner. Once I got past her foolishness, I reminded myself I was in a monogamous relationship (or so I thought), and that we always used protection-MY doing not his. Still, I needed that proof I was clean. Nurse Ratchet looked over my chart and glared at me like I was a heathen. I dropped my eyes away from her, embarrassed and wondering what she was thinking. I expected questions about my sex life but she jumped straight to the point. “Are you using protection?” Smiling, I said “yes”, proud that I was being responsible and making sure I avoided having babies without a man to take care of them. I wasn’t on birth control because my boyfriend thought it would be “bad for my body.” Anyway, Nurse R. saw my response, rolled her buck eyes and frowned her nasty face up. Next thing I know, she spats, “Well, make sure he’s not poking a hole in the bottom of the condom because these fools out here are trying to get girls pregnant. I’ve already had two women in here find out they’re pregnant who swear by using condoms!!!” I was horrified and held my fear until I got in the car. On the way home, I reminded myself I had a good man. I also secretly wondered had he too been to this place for his test?What if he’s one of the fools she’s talking about? I got the results a week later, and was negative for everything. What a relief, right? My boyfriend and I were faithful and responsible. Fast forward to us falling out, taking a “break”, and getting back together months later to get a phone call from his “girlfriend”. Wait, what? I was his girlfriend, so what was this chick talking about? I was dizzy and pissed because this was not to be my life. Okay? This was my introduction to the real reason people need to get tested for STD’s. I had to wait six months before another set of tests (this was the 90’s) so imagine my anxiety this time. Turns out it was negative and how glad was I that I didn’t give into his BS about no condoms.
It’s nerve-wracking enough to get tested for STDs when it’s you and one man involved. But can we talk about the hook ups where protection isn’t even mentioned? I’ve watched Love and Hip Hop Atlanta this season (I admit it) and imagined enough swapping of body fluids to make my make my private parts itch. Joseline is bisexual, sleeping with Stevie J- a married man, who also sleeps with other women in addition to Joseline his jump-off and his wife. Did you get all that? How many people have been exposed in this situation? And while the distinguished psychologist graced us with his presence to counsel the three-way train wreck, I wonder why he never brought up that they are nasty (my words) for sharing a man who seems like he doesn’t care who he’s sexin’ as long as it’s some BODY?
The African-American community has the highest rates of HIV in the United States. Men and Women. For women it’s even worse. And if LAHHA is any indicator, clearly we know why. Nobody on the show talks about safe sex. Only that I’m getting cheated on. In fact, I believe Josephine had a “slip up” thinking she was pregnant. I mean, even on ABC’s Afterschool Specials they talked about protection. I don’t agree with sleeping with someone’s man. So I figure if you get down like that, your sexual health probably isn’t the first priority on your list.
Unfortunately, people still believe HIV is a “down-low disease”, but it’s really “I don’t care about condoms and birth control right now because I like the feeling without it.” Wait until you can’t pee without screaming (said in my Nurse Ratchet voice). The absence of addressing safe sex on reality shows is probably a case of art imitating life. We usually don’t take threats seriously until we ar forced to. But why? Do we as women not value ourselves enough to demand that the men we sleep with protect our bodies? Or are we so desperate for the feeling of love that we don’t realize it’s only a temporary fix? Look at me, I mean, you couldn’t tell me I wasn’t in a faithful relationship. That’s what I believed right up until the extra woman burst my bubble. By the way, he said it all happened while we were on a break. Yea, mmm “girlfriends” don’t happen on a break. Hook-ups? yes, but official titles and rankings too? Chile Bye.
We have to do better. I don’t care if it’s the current preference or the thought we gotta take what we can get. We line up for Jordan shoes like Jesus is giving discounts to Heaven and load up on Popeye’s on Tuesdays for the weekly specials. So, please don’t tell me we don’t show up when things are important to us. Part of it is, we don’t like to be told what to do. But I guess I’d deal with Nurse Ratchet’s face than have to look at my doctor while he tells me I’m going to have to take 9 pills a day for the rest of my life. Yes, medicine can cure some things, but if we set a new standard to stop the cycle of unnecessary high rates of STDs in our community, we won’t have to worry about that aspect of sex. Consider this my PSA for safer sex and making sure you are his ONLY gal around town.