Following the news all last week we became aware of the current prosecution of Johnnie Peters from Flint. He is currently being charged with failing to disclose his positive-HIV status to his sexual partners, which is a felony by law.
With this news it’s important that we take this time to reflect on our own sexual behaviors and ways to maintain our own safety regardless of our sexual orientation or sexual behaviors/practices. We must remember that safer sex is our own personal responsibility and that we cannot leave it up to our partners. Rather than solely focusing on Peters’ case it is now time to provide clients, children, family members, friends, neighbors, partners, and/or fellow church members with the knowledge, skills and self efficacy to:
1. be more aware and respectful of their bodies (especially their reproductive system);
2. make sexual decisions based on their own values and what is best for them;
3. ask the right questions of current and new partners about their sexual histories;
4. effectively communicate about what sexual behaviors they will or will not engage in, including their choice to remain abstinent;
5. negotiate for other behaviors/activities they want to engage in, and or
6. how to correctly and consistently use condoms and other sexual paraphernalia
Knowing your status is just the first step to engaging in safer sex practices. GCHD, YOUR Center, and other facilities in Flint offer HIV/AIDS and STI testing year around. GCHD also released a press release last week addressing the matter in its entirety, giving resources for both anonymous and confidential testing.
Instead of taking this news as a fear message, we should use this to remind us that HIV/AIDS is still a serious public health concern and testing and communication with our partner(s) are an important part in maintaining a healthy sex life.
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