Rub-ber up on HIV
By Andrea Arscott, Senior Columnist
World AIDS Day is coming up December 1, so now is a great time to brush up on your knowledge of HIV/AIDS and to get tested if you haven’t already done so over the last year. There are several things you should know about HIV. First of all, the “H” in “HIV” does not stand for humping and the “V” does not stand for vagina. Although humping—more formally known as sexual intercourse—and vaginas enter into the transmission equation for HIV, the acronym stands for “Human Immunodeficiency Virus.”
To explain it simply, the virus attacks our immune systems, causing them not to work properly, making it easy to get sick and hard to recover. For some, the illness progresses into AIDS, but because of advances in treatment, it’s far less common to die of an AIDS-related illness nowadays.
HIV is still a sickness you don’t want, so learn this transmission equation to protect yourself: an infected body fluid + a body opening + a risky activity = risk of HIV. To be on the safe side, you want to stop any body fluid that may contain significant amounts of the virus from entering your blood stream through risky activities. The body fluids that you need to worry about are semen (including pre-cum), vaginal fluids, blood (including menstrual blood), and anal fluids. If a baby’s mother is HIV-positive, there’s a risk of transmitting HIV to the baby through breastfeeding because breast milk can also have higher levels of HIV.
Although there’s a long list of risky activities that could result in acquiring or spreading HIV, the most common include unprotected vaginal sex, unprotected anal sex, and sharing needles to inject drugs. Luckily, there are protective measures, and they take less effort than trying to separate a hot dog bun: wear a condom and use lots of water-based lube; wear a condom and use even more lube; and don’t share needles or any other drug paraphernalia.
I know I sound like a broken record, but when I hear of guys who have had sex with hundreds of women and who just don’t like the feeling of rubber on their penis, I’m forced to play my message over and over again: Wrap it up!Rubber up!Throw a hat on it!
There are women out there who are just as horny and carefree as men, and they too need to take responsibility for their sexual health and insist on condom use with their partners.
Knowing your status is also key in preventing HIV. You can’t say you’re negative if you haven’t been tested in over a year and have had sex with people, even if it’s just one person. If your argument is that you used a condom, do you know for a fact that the condom didn’t break? Or maybe you like to get your juices flowing with a little unprotected oral sex. You can contract HIV if you don’t use a dental dam to cover the vagina during oral sex. Cover it up! Rubber up! Throw a square on it! On men, use a flavoured or unlubricated condom.
If you’re wondering where to get tested around New West, the Purpose Society has three clinics you can access:
– Youth Clinic at 38 Begbie Street: Tuesdays 2:30 – 6 p.m. and Thursdays 4 – 8 p.m. (up to age 21)
– HIM Health Centre (for gay men) at 38 Begbie Street: Mondays and Wednesdays 4 – 9 p.m.
– Adult Community Clinic at 40 Begbie Street: first and third Friday of the month from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
You can also make an appointment to get tested for HIV and other STIs at the NW Public Health Unit by calling 604-777-6740. Just tell them Stride with Purpose sent you.
Help us raise awareness this World AIDS Day. Share this article, “like” the Stride with Purpose Facebook page (facebook.com/stridewithpurpose), and get tested.