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Rae Lewis-Thornton: A Diva Talks About Sex, Dating and HIV/AIDS (Video)

November 2, 2012

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"If this man knows I have HIV and he's prepared to have sex with me without a condom, who else is he having sex with without a condom?"
I'm not that grand that you will want to be with me without a condom. But there are some fundamental things. If this man knows I have HIV and he's prepared to have sex with me without a condom, who else is he having sex with without a condom? If he thinks my vagina, and this sex, is worth his life, is this somebody I really think is worth me? Because I think a lot of myself.

And then, kind of fundamentally: I have no immune system. I am not prepared to be reinfected with HIV by a more aggressive strain. I'm not prepared to get any other sexually transmitted diseases. I don't want hepatitis, because that will take your butt up out of here quicker than AIDS. And so I value me, even if you don't value you.

And there's not enough love. If I love you, I would want to keep you safe. If you loved yourself, you would want to keep yourself safe. And if you don't love you, how can you possibly love me? But it took a lot of therapy, and a lot of putting what I know to practice. Because Oprah says all the time: "When people know better, they do better."

That is not true. It takes a lot of work to do better. I want to die doing better about myself, and about other people that I encounter. So, I'm good, baby. I'm just good. I fucking got a vibrator; and that is what it is. I'm just not willing to sacrifice who I am to be with a man.

You've said so many great things; but I think that's one of the most important, best things. We keep telling women, "You are no one without a man. You need a man. If your man strays it's because of something you did. At all costs, keep that man." And we're giving women really bad messages.

And you know what? We're giving women with HIV bad messages. We're telling them that they have to stay in those unhealthy, abusive relationships; that they have to stay with a man that infected them because "he's the only one that'd want to be with you."

"Women with HIV need to know that, yes, there will be men who want to date you. There are healthy relationships that you can have, with HIV; and you don't have to settle for the crap."
That is not true. If you treat yourself like a woman, there will be a man who will want you. There is somebody for everybody on this planet. But you have to put yourself first. And I think that women with HIV need to know that, yes, there will be men who want to date you. There are healthy relationships that you can have, with HIV; and you don't have to settle for the crap.

It's enough managing your HIV day to day, to have to try to figure out him, too. And I just; I just can't. I can't. You know something fundamental for me, too? I spend a whole lot of time, especially on the blog, writing to women and telling them to love themselves. I have to practice what I preach. If I really want to be authentic, then I have to do what I am asking other women to do.

And a guy that I'm talking to now has said a couple times, "Ooh, that blog, it seemed like it could have applied to me, that you wrote yesterday."

I said, "Well, if the shoe fits ... you need to take heed, Boo." I just want to be authentic. I want to be true. And you can't be authentic 100 percent of the time, but you can work at it.

You know, my therapist says to me that discipline is a transferable skill. And he looked me in the face one day -- this is a few years ago -- and he said, "And I know you're disciplined." I was on Fuzeon (enfuvirtide, T-20) at that time. He said, "Because you inject yourself in the stomach twice a day. And it hurts like hell every time you do it. But you do it. You haven't missed a dosage. That's a lot of discipline. It's a lot of discipline."

And I don't feel like I have to settle for less.

Kellee Terrell is the former news editor for TheBody.com and TheBodyPRO.com.

Follow Kellee on Twitter: @kelleent.


Copyright © 2012 Remedy Health Media, LLC. All rights reserved.
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This article was provided by TheBody.com.

See Also
Rae Lewis-Thornton: A Diva Talks About Living With HIV/AIDS (Video Series)
TheBody.com's HIV/AIDS Resource Center for African Americans
HIV and Me: An African American's Guide to Living With HIV
More Personal Accounts on African Americans and HIV


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