Sunday, June 19, 2011

Safer Sex in the City

I'm a fan of charity.  A big fan.  And I have an opportunity here for those of you who also love charity.  The best part is?  You can give without pulling out your wallet if you aren't able to do that right now.  I love things like this because there is no reason not to participate when you can help someone with little to no effort.  As they say - why not?  But before I get into details, let me explain what the charity is for.   It is aimed at helping those with HIV/AIDS.  This particular event comes to us from a group in New York City, the AIDS Service Center in NYC.  They are hosting an annual event called Safer Sex in the City.  But what can I do, zelda?  I don't live in New York!  Me neither!  But there is still an easy, free way to lend a hand.

However, I've been asked to talk a bit about how HIV and/or AIDS has touched my life.  I'll be honest - I've been quite sheltered from it.  I'm in a purely monogamous relationship.  Master and I... well, without getting too deeply into our history - let's just say there is no risk of catching anything from each other.  It's been this way for me since day one.  I never had to worry after an unprotected encounter with a stranger because I've never had one.  But I do remember looking in through a window, so to speak.

I was at my university's health center.  I was there because I had someone how managed to contract mono (I don't even know.  Did you know you can get it just by sharing drinks or utensils?  I didn't.) and I was waiting for my own test results.  But I wasn't the only one in the waiting room, that day.  There was also a man.  He was probably a few years older than I was at the time, in his early 20s with red hair in dreadlocks.  He was nervous and perturbed, but I wasn't paying much attention to him.  I was more worried about what it would mean if my mono test came back negative (since I was told that could mean something more serious was wrong).

A nurse called the man's name and handed him an envelope.  He took it and left in a hurry.  Again, I wasn't paying it much heed.  But then he came back, moments later.  He grabbed the nurse's arm saying, "Excuse me, I have a question, um... so.. I don't have AIDS?"  He looked so afraid, on the verge of being told he was HIV free, yet still seemingly fearful that he had misread the results.

"No," she said matter-of-factly.  "We would have made it very clear if it had been positive."

"Oh.  Well, thank you."  And off he went again.  I imagine he was greatly relieved, but was probably still too shaken to take much joy in the news.

I was an interaction I hadn't been planning on seeing.  I didn't know who the man was and I haven't seen him since that day, about 2.5 years ago.  But it made me stop and think about how lucky I am to have never been exposed to something so frightening.  It is easy to judge and to think "perhaps he should have kept it in his pants".  And maybe there is some truth to that.  But there is no way of knowing what happened to that man to make him have to wonder and wait in terror for those test results.  A cheating lover.  A potentially tainted blood transfusion.  Who knows.

In general, I don't worry about AIDS personally.  But I do worry about it in a global context.  And no one is immune - anything can happen, which is again why it's so important not to be judgmental and why we should keep searching for the cure.

Now, how we can help.  EdenFantasys has teamed up with Safer Sex in the City and for every person who "likes" the fundraiser page on facebook (provided in the previous link), EdenFantasys will donate $1.  I know some of you may be thinking that a dollar doesn't seem like a lot, but those dollars add up!  And you can help out 100% free.  So please, if you have an extra five seconds, just click the "Like" button on their facebook page.  :)  Or if you're in the area, buy some tickets!  After all, it's for a good cause.


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