What would I do?
Written by Daniel Casillas
Our friends, for many of us, are as important to us as air. We share our life experiences with our closest friends. With them, we share our most embarrassing and most cherished moments. We share even our most intimate moments without batting an eyelash. The trust with our friends runs deep. And, from time to time, there are those precious moments when our friends share something with us that cause us to pause and think — pause and think because what they just shared causes you to flash to sitting on the sofa Friday night watching an episode of ABC’s “What Would You Do” hosted by John Quinones. You pause because you are thinking that, at any moment, Quinones is going to pop out from behind the curtain and interview you about what your friend just said: “Women can’t give men HIV”. Well, relax, you’re not that lucky. You snap back to reality and say to yourself, “No he didn’t just say that”. The next thing you think to yourself might be, “What if there were an episode of ‘What would you do?’ What would I say?”
What your friend just shared with you reminds you that, despite all of the information available, there is still so much more work to do. HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) may not be as big a deal today as it was just 10 or 15 years ago but it is the confusion and misunderstandings about HIV that keep people, like your best friend, at risk for becoming HIV-positive.
Here are some of tips for you and your friends to use the next time you find yourself in an episode of “What would you do”.
Someone says: “If I get HIV, I can just take a couple of pills and I’m cured.”
In 2012, it is understandable for you — or anyone else — to pause and think about what you just heard. The truth, though, is there is no cure for HIV.
There have been amazing breakthroughs in medications that make living with HIV possible. Being HIV-positive today is almost like living with a chronic disease, like diabetes or heart disease. But by no means should medications be confused with a vaccine or a cure.
Someone says: “Do you think we can get HIV from someone with HIV sitting next to us in class or riding the bus?”
Immediately, the first response someone might have to this question is, “Who has it”. Of course, then that would be messy of you –of them. The truth is you can’t tell who is HIV-positive by looking at them any more than you can tell someone has diabetes or high blood pressure.
You cannot get HIV through:
- Air or water
- Insects, like mosquitoes
- Saliva, tears, or sweat
- Casual contact like shaking hands, sharing seats in class, or sitting next to someone on a bus
- Closed-mouth or “social” kissing
What is important is knowing how HIV is transmitted.
HIV is transmitted:
- Semen – good old fashion unprotected anal or vaginal sex especially with someone who is infected or who doesn’t know that they are infected.
- Infected blood – it is important to understand that infected blood only puts another person at risk if the infected blood is able to enter another person’s blood stream (e.g., open cuts, sores, bleeding gums)
- Sharing needles and other paraphernalia with someone who is infected.
- Breast milk: mother-to-child
Someone says: “I don’t have anything to worry about, I’ve got a partner.”
This line, from the movie Steel Magnolias, “If you can achieve puberty, you can achieve a past” speaks volumes. The truth is that both of you bring a past to the relationship. Get tested so both of you know your HIV status.
HIV is still a big deal…what ARE you going to do?