Clifford A. Williams
In my history of being HIV+, I have learned a great deal.
I have seen and benefited from the great strides in the History of HIV/AIDS, and despite effective prevention strategies and slogans that have reduced HIV’s spread among many populations, about upwards of 50,000 new cases of HIV are still diagnosed each year.
Since HIV first appeared four decades ago the obstacles that stood in the way still stand in the way and that’s stigma and empathy.
I remember as an individual what stood in my way was not so much a black thing but a Man thing.
I realize in hindsight that it was misinformation because in the peer pressure I got from the older and even my age at the time, no one ever talked about Protection or Condoms.
God forbid that as a young man approaching teen-hood that you were afraid of females. There was never a fear of HIV back then and Gonorrhea, was this painful burning during urination that all guys had experienced once or thrice? It was a right to passage as a male coming up.
Why, if I look back at my pattern of behavior yes, I would say I was headed for a life of HIV/AIDS or maybe a lifelong relationship with an STI.
But today there is no excuse; we must be unafraid to open a dialogue on HIV/AIDS and STIs. In our homes, schools, churches and social group.
Every individual that is sexually active, uses drugs or alcohol knows of the risky behavior I’m talking about because you perceive alcohol and drug usage as a recipe for having a good time, or celebrated whatever happens in your life.
Don’t be confused, don’t stop thinking, remember that danger comes with risk.
Now, I am thinking about another obstacle was my thinking and my perception of what life really was during those youthful years.
Because No one ever talked about sex about the dangers they; only talked about sex and babies; pregnancy and birth control but not much about sexually transmitted diseases. That was like giving me the keys to the secret box but you must never open it.
There were very few incidents about injection drug use; I did not see it but it still came stealthily because behind closed doors who knows what people do?
And it’s the fear of stigma both inward an outward that gagged our conversations about intercourse and HIV, I vaguely remember talking about Herpes (HPV) and Syphilis in sex education class but not much about HIV/AIDS.