Raise your hand if you’ve ever had unprotected sex.
I have. Even when I knew better.
Even when I really knew better.
When I was in my early twenties, I was “big sister” to a toddler through The Pediatric AIDS Foundation. She was two. She was chubby, cute and full of life. I loved her. She was HIV positive.
Around the same time, I met a women who would become one of my dearest life long friends. She’d lost her husband to AIDS in the very beginning of the epidemic in the eighties(when the Reagan administration ignored it). I lived in the DC area and cried my eyes out over the AIDS quilt spread out over the National Mall.
The sad fact is, there were times in my twenties when despite being well educated on HIV, I could not muster up enough self-love to protect myself. That’s really the bottom line.
Somehow I dodged a bullet.
Regan Hofmann was not so lucky. She had unprotected sex with a man she was in a relationship with and contracted HIV. She was diagnosed HIV positive in 1996.
Her riveting memoir, I Have Something to Tell You is about her life post diagnosis and her decision to come forward publicly with her HIV status. Hofmann does an incredible job describing what it is like to live with HIV. Her mission is to rid the world of the stigma associated with HIV, (which actually perpetuates the disease) and to offer those infected with it the same compassion and consideration as those enduring any other illness.
The only way I know to help with that is to admit it could have just as easily been me. Or perhaps you. Or your siblings. Or your friends.
Or maybe your kids.
Contrary to popular belief, women are especially at risk for contracting HIV these days. Fifty percent of all new HIV infections are among those under twenty-five. But, people over the age of fifty (and perhaps new to the dating scene after long marriages) are among the fastest growing segments of new HIV infection.
I Have Something to Tell You is an important book. Read it, and give it to the people you care about.