Know Your Status

I was online and I saw stories about the spike in HIV infections in Jackson and Hattiesburg, Mississippi. We're a mobile society and people from Lumberton and surrounding areas regularly visit and/or socialize in those cities. I know it's not new but many people don't have an issue with "hooking up". Today, it seems that a committed relationship is not a prerequisite for having sex. People are hooking up after games, at parties and even at church events and baded on the number of pregnancies, it's obvious that condoms are not part of the equation. I guess the wrap it up commercials are not very effective. I don't know what it's going to take for people to take precautions when having sex. I've had some bump and grind sessions that were legendary and I've handed out my share of pearl necklaces (the urban dictionary kind) but regardless of how explosive the sex may have been, it wasn't to die for; meaning we used condoms during intercourse. I know I may have overshared but we need to stop being afraid to talk about sex. Everyone is having sex, had sex or going to have sex. I know when you're young, you think you're invincible but young or old, you need to be aware of the dangers associated with unprotected sex.

Guess what? People are having sex. People in high school and probably junior high are having sex. I'm shocked every time I read a story about a fifth grader doing drugs or drinking. So if there's kids drinking, there's kids having sex. The earlier a person start having sex, there's an increased chance for infection. These days, anyone sexually active should get tested. HIV is spread through blood and genital fluids, including pre-seminal fluid and semen (also known as pre-cum and cum). Anyone can become infected with HIV by engaging in unprotected sex (anal, vaginal or oral) or other types of sexual behavior with an HIV-positive person, or by sharing needles, syringes or other injection equipment with someone who is infected with HIV. HIV cannot be spread through air or water, insect bites, saliva, tears, sweat, casual contact like shaking hands or sharing dishes, or closed-mouth or social kissing.

Not having sex is the best way to protect yourself from HIV infection. But if you are having sex, it is important to know the risks of different types of sexual activity. Not all sexual activities have the same risk. Some pose a greater risk for transmitting HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. In addition, the risk of getting or passing on HIV depends your HIV status, your partner’s HIV status, you or your partner’s viral load (that is, the amount of virus in the body) (if either one of you has HIV), and condom use.

Left untreated, HIV infection can cause serious health problems. Almost all patients with untreated HIV infection eventually develop AIDS. Early diagnosis allows people to begin a treatment plan to help them stay healthier and delay or prevent complications caused by AIDS. Antiretroviral therapy (ART) is an effective treatment that can help people with HIV live longer, healthier lives and lower the chance of passing the disease to others. The sooner treatment is started, the more effective it is in preventing complications caused by the virus. To help prevent the spread of HIV, wear condoms and you can get an at home testing kits at your local drugstore, there's anonymous testing or you can call 800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636) to find free testing sites in your area. Know your status.

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