Sex happens, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, so does HIV.
There are many songs celebrating the “inebriated Celt” – “I am a rambler and a gambler a long way from home,” as Bob Dylan says. Many girls and many episodes of sowing wild oats are espoused as songs, television shows and movies boast of great exploits and adventures.
Celebrating the act of living is great, but what’s wrong with this picture? The problem with this male fantasy is of course well known. Living like this means there is bound to be trouble. But, sex happens to all of us and is a beautiful thing; most adults have had sex even though we may not have the exploits of the mad Celt, off in his ramblings.
That brings me to my point: if I have had sex with someone, who else has that someone had sex with?
Imagine someone with the flu sneezing on their hands and then shaking hands with you. Can you see the virus? Did you touch your face after that – mouth or nose? Thankfully it’s just the flu (which does, however, kill its fair share of people each year, so get your flu shot) but you get my point – viruses cannot be seen!
What if you’ve had too much to drink and meet someone at the bar… they’ve had too much too obviously. Can you see that virus coming?
So why not take the test for HIV? Is that too scary? It might be a hard sell… But it can save lives, maybe yours.
I know when AIDS arrived on the scene it scared the crap out of all of us and seemed like a death sentence. Thus, it became very difficult to deal with and people were very frightened. Now, the recommendations are: if you have had sex, take the test.
I remember coming across a poor chap in Glasgow in 1985 (the year Rock Hudson died of AIDS) who was admitted with AIDS to the hospital I worked at. Back then, there was so much uncertainty around the disease, and admittedly, some fear, due to the ignorance. Information did not travel via the internet yet and one had to find a book to explain things or some other scientific source. I’m not sure there were that many, if any, books written on the topic at that time and the press became an information source – there were some good articles and some terrible ones.
Today we know better. We now know that basically anyone can get it so, if you have had sex, get the test.
HIV treatment is very good these days and the scientific medical community has done really well in researching and treating the infection and disease. Since nobody is perfect and we all fall down at times, like the medieval nursery rhyme says, it’s time to get rid of the stigma and moralizing and treat the disease like any other infection.
Get the test.
Visit hiv101.ca for more information.
About Jim Coyle
Jim is a tobacco reduction coordinator with the men’s health program, and has a background in psychiatry and care of the elderly. In former times, Jim was director of care at Simon Fraser Lodge and clinical coordinator at the Brain Injury Group. He came to Canada from Glasgow, Scotland 20 years ago and, when not at work, Jim plays in the band Out of Alba and spends time with his family.