February 14, 2014
This piece originally appeared in Rae's blog, Diva Living With AIDS.
I've been blogging all week, and after sitting at my computer for hours trying to come up with something deep and profound to say on Valentine's Day, I actually drew a blank. Then it occurred to me that all I really want to say to you is, use a condom. No need to be extra in this last post in the series. I hope that I have given you lots to think about all week long and I hope that some of it will stay with you as you muddle through life and love.
The fact is, no matter how much I drill it home, you still have to make the decision to let self-love be your guide. This is what I know to be true, that we don't really know what another person has done or will do. All we can truly know is what we do and what we see.
We make a whole lot of assumptions about our partners don't we; what they would or would not do. Even what we think they are doing when they tell us what they are doing. The fact is, unless you have eyes everywhere, all you can hope for is the truth. That is, what they tell you is true.
Given this fact, this is what I know: If the penis ain't in your pocket you have no idea what it's doing when it ain't with you. What I know to be true, is that I have had sex with another woman's boyfriend, and even husband, while HIV infected. I have even lain in bed, while he talked to the wife and then resumed doing the do. Thank God that I found the strength to love myself.
What I know for sure is that you can only be accountable for your own body, and at the end of the day, your own life. We have taken the blame out of HIV as should be. No one deserves to get HIV; NO ONE! But what I also know to be true, is each day we make choices about our bodies. The choice to have sex and the choice to not have sex. The choice to have sex with a condom and the choice to have sex without a condom.
My prayer is that you will make the healthiest choice. Remember this, some things cannot be undone. It is a fact, there is no sex worth your life. If you become infected we can treat you and you can live a long time, but understand this, HIV is a game charger and that's a fact.
At the end of the day, there is no sex worth your life! Use a Condom! The End!
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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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