Gather around girls and boys…we need to talk!
It’s only been a few days into the New Year and December is already becoming a distant memory, but it shouldn’t really…let me explain. December is world renown for being the most debaucherous time of the year. I mean, who can blame us? We are young and beautiful and just trying to live our best lives after months of slaving away at university and jobs where we’re underpaid.
Anyway, sometimes the festivities can get out of hand. A little liquid courage and a YOLO attitude can end up in the bold pursuit of a crush or for those who are a lot more bold, a lot of hit and runs. This is all fine and well but only if you are careful and know what the person you are sleeping with is carrying. In all honesty, there is no real way of knowing who has their sexual health in check and who doesn’t. I mean for the most part, we all look healthy, right?
December is AIDS awareness month. A time to not only to raise awareness but also celebrate increased access to treatment and prevention of the disease. South Africa has a population of more than 56 million and in 2016 UNAIDS estimated that the country had up to 7.1 million people living with HIV and I suspect that number has increased significantly to date. On a global scale, South Africa has the largest number of infected persons. Think about that for a second. South Africa has the largest number of HIV infected persons in the world. This translates to one thing and one thing only for me. We all need to know our status and I’m going to go a step further and say we all need to know if we are carrying any STDs as these make us more susceptible to contracting HIV. Believe you me, getting an HIV test and an STD scan is the most daunting thing to experience. The wait literally terrifies you (I would suggest taking a trusted friend with you) but there is so much relief in knowing, there is so much power in knowing.
In the year 2018 I want to challenge each of you to take control of your sexual health. Know your status and also demand to know your partner’s status. Protect yourself always. Don’t fall for the ‘I’m clean’ storyline, ask for the paperwork for confirmation. Don’t become a statistic. Only you can protect yourself.
If you would like to make this bold but important step, I’m sure you’re wondering how much this is going to cost you. Well, HIV tests are free at all public hospitals, I’m not sure if this applies to STD scans too. Marie Stopes does HIV and STD tests for a small fee. They are practically a godsend to women. Medical Aids do most certainly cover blood tests. Alternatively you can visit Lancet Labs where you can request to get tested for HIV, herpes, syphilis and a range of other sexually transmitted diseases starting from R100.
I’d say if you’re going to invest in anything this year, let it be knowing your sexual health.