An American Girl in Washington

HIV in DC: WTF Mate?

Posted in Politics- as I see it by AGinDC on 4 October 2010

I was sitting on the Metro today, minding my own business, contemplating my life, when I saw a poster.  It was perhaps the most shocking poster of my life.  It said that 1 in 20 people in DC have HIV!!!

w.

t.

f.

I have lived in the state in South Africa with the highest HIV/AIDS rate in the country and I understood why that was the case.  Massive poverty.  Little to no education.  Cultural challenges like an aversion to condoms, child marriage, and polygamy.  Lack of recreation in villages with nothing but mud huts and liquor stores.  It was awful and wrong and tragic in South Africa, but understandable.

But this is Washington DC.

Forget that you’re never more than ten miles from the White House, seat of the throne and home of the most powerful family in the world.  Shitty as the schools are here, everyone has to go to them.  We live in a culture where we learn about condoms from age 10 (except in Utah and certain parts of Louisiana).  You can’t even watch “Teenage Mothers” on MTV without seeing a couple of slightly inappropriate Trojan commercials.  Condoms are available everywhere.  You can buy them anywhere from CVS to Target, you can get them for free at schools, Planned Parenthood, and the club.  You can even buy flavored ones in the girls bathroom for a quarter.  You can’t buy MAC makeup, a Broadway theatre ticket, or a pair of red socks without learning about and contributing to the fight against AIDS.  There is literally no way to escape it.  And yet, 1 in 20 people in DC (and you can bet the numbers are much, much higher amongst my people) have HIV.

So now I’m scared shitless.

This is not a town to be a single girl in.  Especially a single black girl who is devastatingly attracted to black men.  It’s a little scary.  Especially because there is still such a stigma attached to HIV that many people don’t get tested and many of those who do, don’t tell.  And condoms break.

Aargh.

I need to find out more about this.  I need to find out what’s going on in this city and how we can stop it.  I also need to see this movie:  www.theothercity.com.

Perhaps though, if there is any slight silver lining, it’s this:  Perhaps the men and women and boys and girls out there who don’t have HIV will learn to be more cautious.  Maybe as they learn about the numbers and the problem they’ll wait longer, use protection, and really think before they jump into the sack, or the backseat of the car, or the public restroom, or the alley behind the liquor store.  Whatever.  Maybe those posters in the Metro will make some people stop and think, and maybe we can get this under control.

Until then, I’ll be locking my chastity belt up tight for a while.

Be safe,

AGinDC

PS.  If you want to learn more about HIV/AIDS in DC, go here, and here, and here.

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