CARES: “No More Secrets, No More Lies”

Sac Hub’s Exclusive E-blast 04.16.09



Nikki Williams-WhitfieldNo More Secrets, No More Lies
By Nikki Williams-Whitfield

Did you know that blacks make up 12% of the U.S. population but 50% of new HIV/AIDS cases?  Did you know that black women are diagnosed with HIV 23 times more often than white women?  Did you know that 66% of all newly diagnosed cases of HIV/AIDS is heterosexual African American women ages 18 through 34 and 55 and up?

I sure didn’t.  I knew nothing about what had been going on right underneath my nose.  I, like so many had been living in my own seemingly “safe” world, going about my every day life, thinking that we as a nation had HIV/AIDS under control.   I was at high risk and didn’t even know it because my ex-husband of 15 years had been living a double life.  I am proud to boast that I am healthy and we are still great friends and parents, but when I realized how much I didn’t know about the statistics, I knew that I must sound the alarm and educate as many people as possible. 

So many people believe that we as a community aren’t in danger because Magic is faring well.  So many are in denial and think that it could never happen to them.  We have had a false sense of security and while we are turning a blind eye and a deaf ear, the numbers are rising.  I have found that most people don’t know their status and know nothing of their partner’s sexual history and have never even asked.

Education is empowerment and for the bible scholars out there, Hosea 4:6 says “My people perish for lack of knowledge.”  The truth is, our people are most definitely perishing for lack of knowledge.  The numbers of newly diagnosed African Americans is rising to pandemic proportions and yet amazingly, we still want to talk about everything else but what is really killing us.

It is time to wake-up and rise-up.  No longer can we claim to be victims when there is so much information available right at our finger tips.  No longer can we walk in denial.  If we do, we will die!  No one is going to hand us this information.  We must diligently seek and ask for ourselves and our children.  Our physical salvation depends on it. We must become advocates for ourselves and our own personal health.  We must restore and recapture our dignity and self-esteem as individuals and as a community. You cannot give what you do not possess.  We must learn how to love and protect ourselves, mind, spirit and body.

Steps of self-empowerment and self-protection:

  • Abstinence is ideal, of course, but if you aren’t capable of abstaining, protection and education is the key to living HIV free.
  • Know your status.  Get tested! 
  • Make sure your partner has been or gets tested.
  • Consider yourself first.  You matter!  Learn to express what you like and don’t like without fear of rejection or disappointment.
  • Don’t be a victim, be a victor.  Don’t give yourself to someone out of guilt or because you are considering their needs only.
  • Set your boundaries ahead of time so you won’t be swayed in the moment.
  • Communicate.  Communicate.  Communicate!  Some women spend more time looking for shoes than they do getting to know a sexual partner.  Learn how to talk to your partner beforehand, not just during the act.
  • Pay attention! Pay attention!  Pay attention!  Trust your gut.  If something feels wrong, trust your instinct and say no.
  • Be pro-active, not re-active.  Use protection.
  • Consider your future.  Decisions you make today affect your tomorrow.
  • Love, value and protect your body and soul.
  • Believe that you deserve more!    

For more information, please to contact:

Nikki Whitfield, Coordinator of African American Mobilization
CARES, 1500 21st Street, Sacramento, CA 95811
P 916-914-6325  |  F 916-914-6324  |

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