All Articles Tagged "safe sex"
With June 27 being National HIV Testing Day, last weekend I had the pleasure of viewing a movie so good I had to watch it twice. “The Normal Heart” is an HBO original movie based on a 1985 play of the same name. It recalls the life of Larry Kramer and focuses on the rise of the initial HIV/AIDS disease in New York City in the gay community. As a response, a group of men form the Gay Men’s Health Alliance to raise awareness about the disease which at the time is referred to as “Gay Men’s Cancer”. At first gay men are encouraged by the few medical professionals investigating the disease to stop having sex, which much of the gay community feels is a direct insult to the sexual revolution in which their open sexuality is just beginning to be accepted among society. In the meantime many of them are witnessing their friends, partners and families helplessly succumbing to the disease.
A few days later I tuned into one of my favorite series “Our America with Lisa Ling” and this time the episode focused on the stigma and shame still associated with HIV in the African-American community namely in the South where half of all new diagnoses in the country are located. In Washington D.C. 3% of the population are infected with HIV or AIDS, a rate that is higher than some African countries.
In the beginning of the episode, Ling interviews Daphne who contracted HIV from an encounter with a man she has just began dating. Daphne says when she learned she was infected, one of her first thoughts was, “God, why me? I never prostituted. I never was in the street. I never did anything. Why is this happening to me?” And I believe that’s the root of the problem that African-American community experiences specifically. We still associate STDs and HIV with immoral or deviant behavior. We still believe marriage will protect our sexual health which another woman, Kimberly, proves is completely untrue after she was infected with the virus from an unfaithful husband.
We also continue to believe HIV is a death sentence. With awareness and treatment, I know many people that are living healthier and longer than those who are HIV negative. HIV is not synonymous with death, promiscuity, drug use or homosexuality. It’s like associating asthma with a life of weed or crack use: the two don’t necessarily go hand in hand.
In many ways, our community is much like the gay men of the early eighties in “The Normal Heart”. We’re so entertained and defined by our open sexuality that we foolishly believe we’re open-minded to the consequences of our behavior as well. We’re talking about sex, but we’re not really taking about sex. We still find it challenging to acknowledge homosexuality that we aren’t having conversations about the alarming rate of men who contract HIV by having sex with other men in prison. Our values and discussions are growing more and more distant from our actual behavior, which is leaving room in the gap for a whole lot of ignorance and rising rates of unplanned pregnancy, HIV and STD infections and high risk behavior.
I’ve worked in sex education for a little over 5 years and what often happens is that the more educated you become and the more comfortable you become with conversations on topics like the sexual behavior of teenagers and the commonality of HPV infections, the more you take for granted that the community as a whole is just as educated and comfortable as you are. When I talk about HPV infection like the common cold, I have clients and students who are either clueless about the virus or instantly become terrified over the myth that those infected with HPV will inevitably develop cervical cancer. People often ask me how I can talk so openly about masturbation, anal sex and herpes. It’s because those things are as much a part of our sexuality as Mimi’s moves on the shower rod or Raven Symone’s sexual preference.
We have to normalize conversations about sexual behavior and make conversations about gonorrhea and herpes as common as conversations about Kanye and Kim K. or the new Nicki Minaj single. Because of the shame and stigma associated with the disease, I’ve met people who are infected but not disclosing to their partners whom they are sexually active with. What always alarms me the most are the numbers of people who do not want to get tested or know their status because they feel like if they are positive, the knowledge of that will kill them quicker. What? That’s like saying knowing you have diabetes or blood pressure will somehow make you die faster
Some of us fear what we don’t understand. Some of us pretend to not care about things that we feel don’t affect us. I believe most of the success the LGBTQ community had with spreading HIV/AIDS awareness was that is was EVERYONE’S problem, not just those affected. Whatever the case may be we need to be honest about the fact that ignoring something won’t make it go away and that some of those most important conversations are the ones we aren’t having. I think educating ourselves about HIV and certain things about sexuality make us uncomfortable because we’re hesitant to be honest with ourselves about our own sexuality. Before we can find any cures or answers, we have to educate ourselves and stop treating the less favorable aspects of our culture and communities like such a big damn secret.
Check out a clip of “Our America: Black America’s Silent Epidemic” below:
Toya Sharee is a community health educator and parenting education coordinator who has a passion for helping young women build their self-esteem and make well-informed choices about their sexual health. She also advocates for women’s reproductive rights and blogs about everything from beauty to love and relationships. Follow her on Twitter @TheTrueTSharee or visit her blog, Bullets and Blessings.
Today, we know enough to understand it isn’t just reckless, irresponsible, ignorant individuals who pick up STD’s—we can all be at risk sometimes, even when we take precautions. Many STD’s can still be passed even when there is a condom present, and the most evil ones show no symptoms for a long time—if ever—leaving the carrier to believe he or she is perfectly clean.
It’s very likely that in your life you’ll date, fall in love with, or even marry someone with a permanent STD like HPV or Herpes. Here’s how to navigate it so that you can increase your chances of staying STD-free, and minimize your chances of offending your partner.
I’ve always been a fan of muscle cars, and after Dodge rolled out a redesigned version of the iconic Charger in 2011—and after a very influential viewing of Fast Five—I decided to buy one.
It the two years since, I have no complaints. It took a little while to get used to the engine, but I’ve happily embraced the full doucheness of using all 400 of the horses in my engine to speed to Trader Joe’s.
Actually, I misspoke. I do have one minor complaint. I have to take it back to the dealership to get tuned up quite often. The last time occurred a little over a month ago. I think I needed new shocks or something, I don’t even remember.
What I do remember, though, is that while I was in the garage, waiting for my car, I heard something that sounded like a locomotive was revving up 20 feet away from me. I quickly turned around and saw the source of that noise: A Dodge Viper. A $120,000, 700hp Dodge Viper. Damn.
One of the guys at the garage saw me admiring it, and asked me if I wanted to test drive it. It apparently was brand new, and needed a couple tune ups before going on the dealer floor. As tempting as it was, I had to decline.
Now, you’re probably wondering why I’d start a piece about the pull-out method with three paragraphs worth of words about horsepower, engines, and a bunch of other stuff I’m sure you didn’t come to MadameNoire to read about. Stay with me, though. There is a method to my madness.
As the title suggests, I am a huge proponent of interruptus aka “the pull out method.” When done properly, it has been scientifically proven to be just as effective as condoms in preventing pregnancy. (Seriously, look it up.) All of the stuff you learned in middle school and high school sex ed about how ineffective pulling out is was false. It is, for people who wish to have unprotected sex and not have to worry about pregnancy, literally the best of both worlds. And, while birth control pills, patches, and injections can have side effects (and can be quite expensive) pulling out is easy and free!
That said, I do understand why it’s not exactly touted as the best thing to do. It doesn’t prevent STD transmission. And, well, it leaves a bit too much up to chance. All a guy has to do is pull out a half second too late and, well, it’s splash time. Also, I understand why teachers and parents tell young adults that it’s ineffective, because it’s not something you should even attempt to do unless you’re a grown up who knows exactly what they’re doing in the sack (and has taken every safety precaution)…which brings us back to the car point.
A super powerful (and super expensive) car like a Viper is not supposed to be driven by an inexperienced driver. You need to have years of experience driving a stick and dealing with powerful cars before you even think about getting behind the wheel of something like that. And, while I do have experience with cars with big engines, I declined driving it because I’m not that comfortable driving a stick, and knew better than to take something like that on the road while relatively inexperienced.
So, would I recommend it to anyone? Definitely! It’s a great freaking car. One of the best you can possibly buy. You’d be hard pressed to beat that driving experience.But…only if you know exactly what you are doing.
My new favorite show on ABC is called Mistresses. I know…sounds scandalous – and it is – and like most guilty pleasures, it involves sex. Lots of it. You have women who get too much of it, not enough of it or who get it from the wrong person, ie: NOT their husbands or someone else’s husband. While it may seem to some that sex is sex and getting it can never be a bad thing, there can be a such thing as the wrong kind of sex. Think you know the difference between healthy and unhealthy sex? See if you’ve ever participated in any of the following…and if it was good or bad for you.
Welcome to the debut of “The Hustle” where we profile African-American women who are turning their passion into a little something on the side, and turning that little something into a big business. Know someone who should be in “The Hustle”? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
“No Glove, No Love.”
When boxing fan and Carla Ja put this familiar slogan on t-shirts to sell at the Mayweather vs. Cotto match last May, it became the unofficial launch of her business. “Within a couple of hours,” she says, “I sold out of the shirts.”
The sales drove more than usual traffic to her website, and led to even more sales—but soon after, Ja admits, interest faded. “All of the momentum and everything just, you know, kind of went away.”
For Ja (pronounced “Jay”) who juggles raising five children with a full-time position as a manager in the medical field, the t-shirts were not about making a few extra dollars on the side. Instead, it was the beginning of the realization of an idea she had had more than 16 years ago.
At the time, Ja’s eldest daughter was three and she had been feeling more responsibility for the world her children would inherit. “I wanted to do something to be a positive contribution to society, and a big part of it is, you know, safe sex and abstinence,” Ja explains. “But I didn’t want to be preachy,” she clarifies.
Biding her time as her family and career grew, and weathering a divorce in the process, Ja finally had the shirts made. But their debut taught her a cardinal rule of business: It’s not about whatever product, service, or even message you’re selling. It’s about building a brand that authentically connects with a community of supporters that can help you make your concept a movement.
Ja had found the seeds of that support in the boxing fans that had patronized her shirts. Now she had to build her brand. As she explained to MadameNoire, it has not been a predictable or straightforward course.
Madame Noire: How did you go about beginning to create your brand?
Carla Ja: I started doing entertainment reporting for Humormill.com and interviewing a lot of the comedians that were doing improv here in Houston, Texas; interviewing the guys from Shaq’s All-Star Comedy Tour. A lot of those interviews really started circulating on the Internet, and shortly thereafter some gentlemen approached me and said “You know what? We see that you’re into boxing. We see all of your pictures. We see that you’re at every boxing event. We see that you’re also doing the entertainment reporting. How would you like to do boxing interviews for us?”
From there, Jeff Mayweather’s Pro Boxing Insider asked me, would I be a contributor for their website. Then Boxing Socialist asked me if I would be a contributor.
MN: How did the interviews evolve into managing boxers?
CJ: A lot of the up-and-coming prospects started asking me, “Miss Carla, can you get us sponsorships?” “Miss Carla, can you hook us up with someone that can help us out with, you know, endorsements and the patches for our trunks?” I said, “You know what? I should just go on and launch my own company.” So that was already something that was in the back of my mind.
From that I interviewed Juan “the Baby Bull” Diaz and [he] said “You know what? I’d like for you to be an athlete representative for my company.”
God opens doors and kind of puts the perfect people in front of you. It just kind of evolved from me launching the t-shirt company and wanting to have a larger platform; to now having a sports and entertainment company [Carla Ja Sports & Entertainment] with a number of potential athletes who are slated to sign here in the next couple of weeks, to the ones that I’m currently managing.
Bill Gates Is Looking For The ‘Next Generation of Condom,’ Offering Up To $1Million In Funding For Safe Sex Innovators
If you were to survey ten people on their feelings about condoms, you’d get all types of responses. Some use them because of their proven effectivity in the assistance of preventing unwanted pregnancies and the transmission of STIs and STDs. Others express that they simply can’t be bothered with them. Whichever end of the spectrum you fall on, I think it’s safe to assume that the common consensus is that condoms make sex less enjoyable. Bill Gates, however, is seeking to change that. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is on the lookout for the ‘Next Generation of Condom’ and are willing to shell out an initial grant of $100,000 to the person or persons with the best proposals, says a press release issued by the organization earlier this month. In addition to the initial grant, the foundation is offering up to $1 million in funding. Students, scientists and entrepreneurs alike are welcome to submit their ideas via an online, two-page application.
“To overcome persistent health and development problems, we need new, game-changing ideas. Inspiration can come from anywhere and we are hopeful that this new round of Grand Challenges Explorations will uncover innovative approaches to improve lives around the world,” expressed the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Director of Global Health Discovery & Translational Science, Chis Wilson.
Proposals will be accepted until May 7, 2013 and can be submitted at www.grandchallenges.org. According to the release, after the close date, the foundation and an independent team of reviewers will select the most innovative proposals and grants will be awarded. As previously stated, each proposal selected will receive a $100,000 grant and the opportunity to received up to $1 million in additional funding.
Sounds like a great idea with an admirable cause!
Not long ago, MN posted a piece on things to look for in a man to determine if he’d make a good father. Well ladies, it’s your turn. Most men with baby mama drama are baffled when they procreate with the bride of Satan, claiming they had no idea she was crazy and deranged. Just like us, men can be blind to the crazy when they’re in love or most likely, lust. Maybe he would notice the red flags if he wasn’t so busy looking at the big butt and a smile. If you’re seeing a woman who has any of the following traits, make sure to wrap it up because she just might turn out to be a crazy baby mama.
For some women, there is nothing they wouldn’t do for their man. Although love should be unconditional, many women feel the need to prove their love to a man, even if it means compromising their beliefs, safety or even their freedom to show them what a “down A$$ chick” they are. However, a man who truly loves you will never ask you to do anything you’re uncomfortable doing in order to prove your love to him. Your love and devotion should simply be enough, and couples who share true love will never have to prove anything to each other. However, if your man begins a sentence with, “If you loved me, you’d…,” run because most likely, nothing good can come of it. Showing your love shouldn’t be shameful, painful, humiliating or illegal, and while you may think you’re assuaging his insecurities, you’re actually just allowing him to manipulate you. Think there is no limit to showing him how far you’ll go to prove your love? Think again. Here are 10 things no woman should do for a man, simply because he asks her to.
Recently I was having a conversation about the responsibility of maintaining birth control with a friend of mine and she said, “I can’t until they make effective birth control pills for men. That way one gender wouldn’t have to shoulder the primary responsibility of preventing unplanned pregnancy.” I feel the same way about STD and HIV prevention too.
And then I read a piece in the Washington Post and remembered the female condom:
“The Food and Drug Administration has approved Female Health Company’s second-generation female condom (FC2). Now the company must figure out how to get it to the markets where it’s most needed. In 2010, the World Health Organization cited HIV/AIDS as the leading cause of death worldwide among women 15 to 44 years old. Mary Ann Leeper and colleagues knew that the female condom provided life-saving empowerment to women. It is the only protection against HIV/AIDS controlled by women.”
In an effort to help raise the profile of the female condom, Female Health Company created a number of public-private partnerships in cities across the country including Washington D.C., which has the highest infection rate for African American women in the country. According to a previous article in the Post, the partnership distributed 200,000 female condoms to beauty salons and community clinics and provided over $400,000 in educational services just in the D.C. area alone. The results proved to increase acceptance of female condoms among both men and women. While this proved to be a highly successful and clever marketing tactic to get female condoms into the hands of a core demographic, it was also a great way to increase the visibility and produce an adequate buy-in of a product, which has to overcome some stigmas and the popularity of the male counterpart.
As long as I can remember, the commonplace belief has always been the women tend to take care of the birth control and the men, the STD prevention (i.e. condoms). I get it, it is a lot easier for a man to slip on a jimmy (they still call them that?) than a women to jam some device up in the snatch and apply all those messy spermicidal creams properly. But with the rate of HIV/AIDS still prominent in the community, particularly with African American and Latino women representing a sizable number of Americans disproportionately impacted by the epidemic, we have to ask ourselves if the task of protecting our sexual health in the sole hands of just one gender?
I know from personal experience there is nothing more frustrating than hearing a dude say he forgot to bring a condom. And even if you are among the well-tuned women, who carry around their own prophylactic, there is no guarantee to ensure that your date for the evening won’t decide to take it off (that stuff happens too) during the act. Therefore, women having power of the condom situation seems like the best course of action to help decrease the spread of sexual diseases – as well as infections. It is said that the female condom actual provides greater skin coverage, thus not only sharply reducing your chances of STDs and HIV but also providing coverage against more topical diseases like Herpes and the human papillomavirus (HPV).
When they are used properly, it is said that female condoms are 95 percent reliable – of course, that’s if they are used accurately. The most common complaint I heard among those friends I know, who have tried it, was that if not careful, a man can bypass the condom all together. But with a little practice, a woman (and man) can certainly learn the proper way to use them. Heck there are even YouTube videos available for those too shy to seek out help.
However for the female condom to become more popular and acceptable, they are going to have to continue on way to make it more convenient and affordable. A three-count box of FC2 will cost about between $4.49 and $5.99 at Walgreens. While this is way cheaper than what they used to cost (I remember when it was $10 a box), they are still a bit more expensive than male condoms. Also, men have the option of going to the corner bodega or Chinese store, if needed. Women on the other hand, have to seek out a drug store or go to an authorized supplier, which might not be fitting when some spontaneous sex just so happens to spring up (no pun intended). But it is certainly not a bad idea to one day, while at the drug store, pick up a box and keep them next to your bed stand. I remember that the year I got a bunch of the FC free from the health clinic. Unfortunately 2010-11 was a bad year for the kid and eventually they dried out before I got a chance to test them out. But I had them – just in case.
What do you think about the female condom? Have you ever used one?
“He doesn’t like to use protection”, “Stopping to put on a condom ruins the moment”, “I don’t want to ask him because he may think I don’t trust him”, “We got caught up in the moment and forgot”. How many times have we heard or said one of the phrases and excuses above, or other phrases and excuses about the man’s use of a condom during intercourse, or the lack thereof? And how many times have these phrases instantly turned into “I think I’m pregnant”, “I’m in pain”, “I’m here for an HIV/Aids test”, or “I’m sorry Ms., but you’ve tested positive for…”
In today’s world of sex, it is vital to one’s health and survival to prep and practice safe measures before engaging in intercourse. With the rapid number of unexpected/unwanted pregnancies, the growing rate of HIV/Aids cases, and other sexually transmitted diseases it is imperative for one to protect themselves during sex. But who is solely responsible for having protection, the man or the woman? The answer to that question is… both! One mistake both women and men make is placing the responsibility of using or being prepared with protection for intercourse solely on the man. I say that both women and men make this mistake because in most cases women expect men to always be prepared with fresh condoms in their wallet ready to pull out for action, and men simply expect women to be prepared with birth control-subconsciously disregarding the fact that sexually transmitted diseases exist; but neither party would expect for a woman to be prepared with her own condoms. Yes, her own condoms for use in her body. I know many of you have heard of the FC-female condom, but let’s take a crash review course in what it is.
According to www.avert.org, the FC is a thin sheath/pouch that women wear during sex that lines the vagina entirely. There are a variety of female condoms such as the FC, FC2 (which is a nitrile sheath or pouch 6.5 inches long,) the Condom Feminine (VA for short), the Cupid female, etc. Female condoms have flexible rings at each end, and at the closed end of the sheath the flexible ring is inserted into the vagina so the condom will hold in place, while the other end of the sheath remains outside of the vulva for entrance into the vagina. This ring serves as a guide during penetration and prevents the sheath from moving further inside the vagina. Now that we’ve had an abbreviated course on what the female condom is let’s look at the advantages of a woman using a female condom for both men and women.
Advantage 1- the female condom can be inserted into the vagina prior to sexual intercourse and it won’t interfere with the heat of the moment. Advantage 2- the man is not solely responsible for having protection. Advantage 3-it will save the man money! Advantage 4- a woman can protect herself from unknown sexually transmitted diseases her partner may have (and may be unaware that he has), and she can protect herself from unwanted pregnancies if it is used properly. Of course with every set of advantages come disadvantages. Disadvantage 1-the outer ring is visible outside of the vagina which can be unappealing, and may cause some women to feel self-conscious. Disadvantage 2- some may find the female condom difficult to remove or insert and many women may feel uncomfortable inserting it. Disadvantage 3- female condoms may be relatively expensive.
While it is true that condoms, both male and female, are not one hundred percent effective in preventing unwanted pregnancies or STD’s, they can be effective if used properly. The safest practice of premarital sex is the practice of celibacy until marriage; however, if your urges to engage in intercourse take over and turn into action, you should always have and use protection. If both parties are planning to have sex, both parties should share the responsibility for their individual safety as well as each other’s. Ladies, there is no excuse for you to not take a stand and protect yourself against the many STD’s that exist. Learn how to protect yourself even if your sex partner won’t because when the sun sets and the moon rises you will be the one at the clinic or in the Doctor’s office, crying, or in a panic state because your world has been turned upside down. Protect yourself even if he won’t protect you. Why? Because your life is worth it.
Liz Lampkin is the Author of Are You a Reflection of the Man You Pray For? Follow her on Twitter @Liz_Lampkin.
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