Posted on February 10, 2012
When HIV/AIDS first impacted people, everyone assumed that only gay men could get HIV/AIDS. Not true - HIV/AIDS has no preference for any race, religion, class, or sex. It can attack anybody who is having unprotected sex or sharing needles.
“If I can get AIDS, then anyone can,” were the words of Alison Gertz (1966-1992). Alison was a rich, upper class young lady from Manhattan’s Upper East Side. She was not gay, and she did not use drugs. She became promiscuous as a teen and contracted the HIV virus, which turned into full-blown AIDS and took her life. In remembrance of Alison Gertz, her family founded an organization called Love Heals.
Nicole Tammelleo from Love Heals visited Fountain House to make sure not only the Young Adults of Fountain House were aware of HIV/AIDS, but that older members were as well. HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is the virus; if it’s not treated by taking medicine and getting tested at least once a year, low T-Cells can aggressively turn into the disease AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome).
Miss Tammelleo also brought a guest speaker from Love Heals who is living with HIV/AIDS. If you're sexually active, it's important to be safe, but Miss Tammelleo’s guest, Miss Asia, was so in love with a guy that she didn’t care about his past partners. One day, her guy told her to get tested, just because. Similar to Gertz, Miss Asia thought she couldn’t have HIV. She took the test and never went back for the results. One day she missed her bus and decided to check on her status. She thought she would pass with flying colors. She was stunned to learn she was HIV Positive. Her guy then told her he had used drugs and slept with prostitutes. Her main points were to talk to your partners about their past relationships and to use protection. I’m sure that had she known about his past, she never would have dealt with him. Now she is in a wheelchair, and her guy is in a nursing home because of other complications from HIV/AIDS.
Not only can men use condoms; women can wear female condoms up to six hours prior to having sex. I did find the lecture a bit sexist, because it was strictly focused on men, and I was blown away that they didn’t bring female condoms.
The best thing to do is just get tested. You and your loved ones should all support each other and make a date to go. There are many ways to get tested. One way is a swab test, which takes 20 minutes. You can also take a blood test, if you don’t mind the wait. It’s important to remember that there’s a window period – a time between HIV infection and when the body begins producing antibodies – when you could register a false negative. It can take up to three months for the virus to show up in your system, so it’s best to get tested often. Having sex is a beautiful thing, but it’s even more beautiful if you are doing it safely.
Find a testing center anywhere in the US.
Education Unit, Fountain House