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A Woman's Vagina Should Not Be a Pawn

By Rae Lewis-Thornton

March 13, 2013

This piece originally appeared in Rae's blog, Diva Living With AIDS.

I was speechless when I watched this video that one of my Twitter followers, Ann sent to me. As I was shaking my head, I had to look down at my PJ's and remind myself that I am a woman, with a vagina and HIV.

So this guy Mike Frey actually said a woman's vagina protects her from contracting HIV. This reminds me of the 1987 article in Cosmopolitan Magazine that said a, "Woman with a healthy vagina couldn't get HIV." That was 1987 when we didn't know that much about HIIV and they still got picketed by Act-Up.

This is 2013, thirty-two years into the AIDS Pandemic and HIV/AIDS has had some of the most ground breaking research in a short period of time. To think that someone actually believes this crap and would part their lips and say it. *Blank Stare* Not only was his information WRONG about women, but it was also WRONG on the why same sex male's contract HIV.

The internet is buzzing with articles challenging his views on male same sex and HIV, but I've seen very little on what he said about women. I get it, Gay Activist are on their A game and I ain't mad. So my blog post is not on the same sex point or same sex marriage that Mike Frey tried to make; I'm speaking for and about women. But just so you know, I do support civil unions of the same sex.

I so dislike when people USE HIV to spread hate. If you don't support same sex marriage then say it. But don't push some ill-informed, jack ass reason to support your position.

I practically dislike men using women's vagina's for their politics. When I was in undergrad I did a 30 page research paper looking at how men have used a woman's vagina to promote there political agenda, usually around birth control, but even around issues of race.

The problem with misinformation around HIV, for both Women and Men, could be the difference between life and death.

To tell women that they can't get HIV through heterosexual sex and to speak it with authority is just pure sinful and irresponsible..

So he claimed that female to male sex is safer because a woman has a, "Barrier of cellular tissue that doesn't allow the sperm... to penetrate the blood flow," but anal sex doesn't have this protection. With 34 million adults living with HIV worldwide, and approximately half being women, I wonder -- what planet is Mike living on?

The fact of the matter is, women are generally at greater risk of heterosexual transmission, meaning it's easier for a man to transmit to a woman, than for a woman to a man. According to the HIV/AIDS Charity Avert, "Biologically, women are twice as more likely to become infected with HIV through unprotected heterosexual intercourse than a man."

According to the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services Women are at greater risk for infection through heterosexual contact for the following reason:

  • The vagina has a larger area (compared to the penis), that can be exposed to HIV-infected semen.
  • Semen can stay in the vagina for days after sex, while men are only exposed to HIV-infected fluids during sex. Semen left in the vagina means a longer exposure to the virus for women.
  • Having untreated sexually transmitted infections (STIs) makes it more likely for a person to get HIV. This is especially true for women. Small cuts on the skin of the vagina are hard to notice but may allow HIV to pass into a woman's body.

In the back drop of Woman and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, on this past Sunday, I am aware of the fact that we must educate our women and girls about their risk factors around HIV/AIDS.

While treatment is great, I believe that prevention is our best defense against this disease. We cannot save lives with half-truths and misinformation. I have no idea who Mike Frey is, but what I know for sure is this kind of misinformation coming out of his mouth is dangerous. I was reading some of the comments people made on line at various articles on this topic and for sure, people cling to crazy out of the fear of the truth.

When a woman believes the truth that she is at risk for HIV, she has to then adjust her behavior to meet this new information. Half truths are easier to embrace sometimes. Who wants to believe that their boyfriend or even husband, could put them at risk? Who wants to think about using condoms with that man who is your best thing since slice bread? The truth then becomes the barrier between what you hope for in a relationship and what is the reality.

Condoms have become our enemy that is buried under the hope for a better truth; My Partner will keep me save, I am not at risk, I'm in a monogamous relationship, He loves me...

But when you pull the layers back, the most profound question you must ask yourself is, "How much do I love me?"

In 2013, we have come a lone way. But clearly Mike Frey has reminded us how far we still must go. We must challenge misinformation head on. The TRUTH is our sword in the fight against new infections, against stigma and shaming.

A Man who cannot respect the truth about a Woman's vagina, should not be privileged to enter it. And a Woman who loves the love of a man, over the love of her own vagina, is living in the world of Mike Frey.

A Woman's vagina should not be a pawn... Bottom Line.

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See Also
Quiz: Are You at Risk for HIV?
10 Common Fears About HIV Transmission
More News and Viewpoints on HIV Prevention for Women


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Rae Lewis-Thornton Speaks

Rae Lewis-Thornton

Rae Lewis-Thornton

Rae Lewis-Thornton is an Emmy Award-winning AIDS activist who rose to national acclaim when she told her story of living with AIDS in a cover story for Essence Magazine. She has lived with HIV for 27 years and AIDS for 19. Rae travels the country speaking and challenging stereotypes and myths about HIV/AIDS. She has a Master of Divinity degree and is currently working on her Ph.D. in Church History. Rae has been featured on Nightline, Dateline NBC, BET and The Oprah Winfrey Show, as well as in countless magazines and newspapers, including Emerge, Glamour, O, the Oprah Winfrey Magazine, Jet, Ebony, the Washington Post and the Chicago Tribune, to name a few. She earned the coveted Emmy Award for a first-person series on living With AIDS for Chicago's CBS News.

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