|Really protect yourself against HIV - Apr 5|
|2009 - Viewpoint|
|Friday, 03 April 2009 16:02|
By Kathryn Tardieu
I remember getting to find about HIV/AIDS as it unravelled in the 80s and it completely terrified me. It seemed to me at the time that this disease was going to ravish the world as I witnessed the medical community totally baffled by its strains and mutations.
I was a young teenager then and the mere thought of this disease being “out there” in the world, far less on our very shores, was enough to make me vow chastity. I had dreams of a future full of hope for my life that I wasn’t letting something as unnecessary as having sex dash in vain. I thought that everyone would have felt the same.
As I got to be an older teen I was no longer terrified by sex and I realised that apparently no one else was either. In fact I always wondered how was it that everyone lost the fear of HIV/AIDS and just kept sleeping around like it didn’t exist. Anyway, I was still much more interested in making my dreams come true than I was in having sex. Sure I had lots of “boyfriends” and of course from time to time I would get asked by one or another if I would ever have sex with him. To be perfectly honest I was simply not interested. Why even risk throwing my dreams away for some brief moments of pleasure? What about condoms? Not me, I didn’t want to be that 1% that fails, you know that “Oops! It broke” statistic. Not me, I was keeping a handle on HIV/AIDS, pregnancy and emotional distress the way that is 100% effective every single time. CHASTITY. As a result I was always happy and at peace knowing that I would be untouched by the consequences of sex because, well, I just wasn’t having any. I was protecting myself.
Coming out of that grounding I went off to university in Miami. I was older now and I could deal with an unexpected pregnancy but the threat of HIV/AIDS was still too real. The message of “Safe Sex” was everywhere I turned, but I always felt happy with my choice and I left everyone else up to their own discretions, still not really understanding how there can be so much promiscuity in the face of such danger. Then I went on spring break.
Lined along Dayton Beach were hotels that towered above the thousands of spring breakers that had come there to party. Hanging from every balcony, along every floor of these hotels were banners for “LIFESTYLE CONDOMS”… “DUREX CONDOMS”…CONDOMS… CONDOMS…CONDOMS. Geeze! How could anyone read “Safe Sex” out of that? All I could read was “HAVE SEX” “HAVE SEX” “HAVE SEX” over and over again as if it were being rammed down my throat. We were apparently animals with instincts so uncontrollable that we had to have sex, so by the way…use a condom. Wow, I thought, did anyone know that we actually have a choice here? And more so, that the choice we have is 100% safe from HIV/AIDS?
Of course Daytona was a bit excessive – but it occurred to me that those banners were just packing into one spring break holiday what we are exposed to every single day, over and over again on our very own shores, and yet no one promotes the alternative. We have been trying to fight HIV/AIDS for decades with education about safe sex, dishing out millions of free condoms and yet for some reason we are still unable to get a handle on the spread of this disease. Perhaps the right message is not getting across – perhaps what we are hearing is “have sex” and not necessarily “protect yourself.”
Pope Benedict XVI is speaking out today to once again give us the alternative. Chastity is a powerful, life saving and dignified way to “protect yourself.” It is not a ridiculous message or an unachievable goal it is a personal choice and as human beings we are different from all animals in that we can make choices, even if they challenge our most primal instincts. That is at the heart of the message and it is a whole lot more humanistic.
As for me, I am now married with a young family and am very happy that the choices I made in my life protected me, and my family, from the scourge of HIV/AIDS. This is the choice I will encourage my children to make, for no sex is the safest sex of all.________________________________________________________________________________________ **DISCLAIMER**: User comments posted on this website are the sole views and opinions of the comment writer and are not representative of Camsel/Catholic News or its staff. Camsel/Catholic News accepts no liability and will not be held accountable for user comments. Please help us keep our site clean from inappropriate comments by using the flag option. Camsel/Catholic News reserves the right to remove, to edit or to censor any comments. Any content which is considered unsuitable, unlawful or offensive, includes personal details, advertises or promotes products, services or websites or repeats previous comments will be removed. Before posting, please refer to the Comments Policy under Resources