Lots of sites out there had links to articles, stats, personal accounts for AIDS Awareness day yesterday. I intentionally chose not to link to any of them, just because. I think that the list at MetaFilter » Link and Think: December 1st, 2001 is pretty good, so I had to include it. Plus I love the design, but …
There is a comment on that page that says “Are people today aware of the dangers of unsafe sex” and I had to address it.
A few years ago a friend of mine started to date a guy … and he was up front & honest with her that he had Herpes. He was taking medicine for it, they used a condom, so “she shouldn’t get it.” But he told her and gave her the chance to say no. (I admire him for being honest, instead of not telling her – he did the right thing.) She took his information to mean she wouldn’t get it since he was on medicine for treatment. I guess she ignored the commercials on TV that say “even when you are taking medicine you can still transmit Herpes.”
Time goes by, and they move in together. He runs out of medicine, but he doesn’t have an outbreak at the time, and he hates doctors, so he doesn’t go in for a refill. He thinks it’s ok. She pesters him to go in, but still thinks she is safe.
When she first found out she had Herpes she wouldn’t tell me. She was in such a huge state of depression that she told me she was going to kill herself, and went into the details of how it had to look like an accident so her life insurance policy would still pay. I *freaked*. I begged. I pleaded, tell me what is wrong. She told me, “no, you will hate me.” Hmmm… let’s look at the reality of this. I normally forgive people before they even say “I’m sorry” so this is not likely. I thought she had AIDS. I was convinced she had AIDS, and that she had gotten it not from her current boyfriend but from the guy she had dated before him who was pretty much only into sex, and being faithful wasn’t important to him. I insisted she told me what was wrong, so finally she came over one day and we talked. She said “are you sure? This will change what you think of me…” Again, I couldn’t think of anything that would change what I thought of her, and I told her that. I love her dearly no matter what. So then she finally said it … “I have Herpes.”
I laughed. I seriously laughed. I was so relieved. I thought for sure she had AIDS. She could not understand why I was so relieved. She started to tell me about all of the bad side effects of Herpes. Her case is extreme, and she has excrutiating pain. Frequently. She is also convinced she should never have children, because of the possible implecations. I don’t agree with her on that.
More importantly is the fact that even now, over a year later, she is severely depressed. She is seeing a therapist (finally) and is doing a lot better, and has not mentioned suicide in some time – but she is not well yet. She still feels like a leper, and thinks that if people knew they would hate her.
Again, I reminded her that the only reason I wasn’t walking in her shoes myself is dumb luck. We had both had our promiscious past, partners we barely knew. She got this from someone she did know, someone she had dated for two years, someone who is still standing by her side today, supporting her through her depression in spite of her many attempts to push him away. It is by the grace of God alone that I did not ever get an STD. Nothing more than that, it was not through my own prevention. She made a choice to play Russian Roulette. At least he had told her years earlier that he had it … not everyone is so lucky to be informed. She had the chance to say no but made a different choice.
I still look at her the same as I did for many years before. She is the same to me. But she did make me stop and think. No, she didn’t have AIDS, but she ended up with an STD. It was a turning point in my own life. It was when I stopped and looked around and realized that I didn’t want to be in her shoes. It was when the point hit home for me. It was when I realized that there is a reason we are taught all of our lives to “wait until you are married” … because every consequence of sex is one that will effect you for the rest of your life. Sure, you can have sex without consequences, you can get lucky … but it doesn’t always work that way.
My personal philosophy? If I don’t care about a guy enough that I would want him as a part of my life until the day I die, I won’t sleep with him. Because if I get pregnant, he will be a part of my life. If I don’t know him well enough to consider marriage, it isn’t time. At least not for me. THINK.