Feature photo by lum1neuz
I grew up with a lot of misconceptions about sex. It was one of the benefits of a very Catholic upbringing combined with Christian sex ed abstinence-only classes. When I was in 6th grade I became deathly obsessed for months that I was pregnant because I had used a public toilet. A few months afterwards and for a couple of years, I found myself randomly picking up pregnancy tests, even though I wouldn’t have sex for the first time until years later. I am not exactly sure when or how I began to take charge of my sexuality, but since then I have learned a lot. I am now the girl friends come to when they have questions about sex and sexuality they are afraid to ask. One of the reasons I’ve become this person for others and for myself is because so many people grew up the way I did, and because of that we put ourselves at risk.
December 1st is World AIDS Day. A holiday first celebrated in 1988 to draw worldwide attention to AIDS and to one day end the infection of HIV. Every year a different theme is chosen; this year in Chicago the local theme is “get REAL get CARE,” a theme based on the idea that the more open and honest we are with ourselves and with each other, the closer we’ll get to ending the spread of HIV. All over the world people are coming together to talk about HIV and AIDS. In Chicago there will be everything from candle light vigils to a world of chocolate fundraiser.
Completely amazing and interesting events, but the truth is, you probably won’t go to any of them. The truth is that unless you are directly affected by HIV or know someone close to you who is, today will only go by as just another Tuesday. I encourage you not to allow that to be the case. Take a moment and think about the Chicago theme. Get real: be honest with yourself. Get care: go get tested. There are many clinics and STD centers that offer free anonymous HIV testing. There’s probably one close to where you are now. Stop by and contribute to this global holiday.