Love Protection More Than Your Partner!: sexually transmitted diseases and the african american community

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Here are two questions I hate to ask: Why is the rate of new AIDS cases among black women 20 times that of white women and Why do African–American women account for 85% of all new AIDS infections in this country?

Black health care experts offer four interesting responses. First, intravenous drug use; second, poverty; third, insufficient health care; fourth, black women not insisting on condom use. By far, the last behavior is the easiest to change, but seemingly the hardest to convince African American women to insist upon. Ladies, it’s time for a deep and serious reality check. Black women who don’t insist on safe sex practices are at worst committing genocide on our race and at the very least, leaving themselves and others open to harmful diseases that may last a lifetime.

Beyond AIDS, there are more sexually transmitted diseases to know and be concerned about. Following is a representative sample:

Chlamydia is a common sexually transmitted disease that has negative implications for African American men, women and children. Passed through sexual contact when the mucous membrane of an infected person makes contact with the mucous membrane of another, Chlamydia bacteria can infect the vagina, rectum and even the eye–lids! Newborns can get the disease while passing through an infected birth canal resulting in eye infections, pneumonia and even blindness. The few signs and symptoms of Chlamydia mimic those of Gonorrea and people infected with Chlamydia are usually treated for both diseases. Men and women may show no symptoms until the disease has spread to the fallopian tubes in women or the prostate gland in men. Back pain and a discharge from the penis or vagina are common. Antibiotics are used to treat Chlamydia. Condoms can prevent its spread.

Herpes is a mild recurrent skin condition that causes lesions, cold sores or fever blisters on the mouth and similar lesions on the genitals. Herpes is a viral infection for which there is no cure. The virus can live in the body forever causing intermittent out–breaks of sores or no outbreaks at all. Herpes Simplex 2 is the disease type that causes genital outbreaks. It’s passed from partner to partner through direct skin–to–skin contact with mucous membranes, primarily the mouth and genitals. Herpes can be transmitted when there are no symptoms present and while both black women and men can become infected, the lesions are more visible on the external genitalia of women. Antiviral medications treat Herpes. Condoms can prevent its spread.

Trichomoniasis can affect both women and men, but women tend to have more irritating and aggressive symptoms. The disease can pass back and forth between partners repeatedly without treatment of both partners. "Trich" is not life–threatening, but its symptoms cause itching and an unpleasant discharge that provides a welcome host for HIV–AIDS infection. This disease is typically found in sexually active young adults with multiple sex partners. Trichomoniasis is easily treated. Condoms can prevent its spread.

Syphilis is a bacterial sexually transmitted disease that’s persisted since early human history. Left untreated it can lead todeath, but in modern times it’s easily eliminated by early treatment with penicillin. When symptoms appear they’re typically in the form of chancre sores on or around the genitals or mouth. Rashes and flatsores can also appear on other parts of the body. Syphilis is no longer widespread, but incidences have been increasing, especially among African American men in the Southeastern states. Condoms can prevent its spread.

I’m sure you’ve detected a common thread throughout this article. Sexually transmitted diseases from AIDS to Syphilis have varied symptoms and cures, but all can be prevented with the simple, inexpensive, accessible and life–saving use of a latex condom. Men: act responsibly! Choose your partners wisely and use condoms willingly. Women: save your own lives – you are at highest risk! Absolutely refuse to engage in intimacies with men who won’t use condoms. Your very life depends on it!

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