Did you use a condom the last time you had sex? If your answer to this is no, you may be at risk of contracting HIV. Currently there are over 32,000 Jamaicans living with the virus and each day over three (3) new persons are infected. Notably the treatment surrounding HIV has vastly evolved over the years, allowing persons living with HIV to live a long and healthy life; but scientists and researchers are yet to discover a cure. Just a couple weeks ago several civil society organizations recognized International Condom Day; on February 13 with one simple message; “use a condom every time!”
People in monogamous relationships often decide to stop using condoms at some point, either because of trust or for family planning reasons, but what if only one of the partners are truly monogamous? Whether you may have been together for years in a marriage or other long-term relationship, you will not develop a telepathic bond with your partner, which allows you to know all their actions. Trading in condoms for ‘complete trust’ is risky, the reality is that we can only truly account for ourselves, so we may need to think twice about having unprotected sex even with a partner.
Whether it’s from our 18-19th century history where the role of the male slave was to breed multiple female slaves to increase economic returns for the slave owners; or it’s hereditary from our grandfathers who were known to have several women in the district pregnant at once; or whether it’s from the influence of dancehall culture which encourages us to have “nuff gyal and gyal inna bungle”, the practice of having multiple sex partners is still of great concern. Most naturally, multiple sex partnerships raise your chances of contracting a sexual transmitted infection (STI) including HIV. Whereas a monogamous relationship between two faithful uninfected partners is not a bulletproof against STIs, it does reduce the risk of infection. However, you should be mindful that infections travel in “bungles.” If you get an STI, you are more likely to get another. This is because when you develop a sore or break in the skin from a STI, it will allow others to easily enter the body.
Unprotected sex is like riding a fast bike without a helmet. It can give you a mind-blowing thrill, a feeling of living on the edge. This is until you are left dangling from a precipice wishing you had chosen to wear protection. This is often the fate of persons who choose not to wear a condom. Whether the argument is “it block di feeling”, “it nuh fit me”, “mi allergic to it”, “nutten nuffi come between two flesh”, “nuh spill the seed” or “supm affi tek mi home”, you are putting yourself at a serious risk. Condoms are now made to address many of the complaints. There are now ultra-thin condoms, which many users report is just as good as condom-free sex. We do not often see persons who wear extra-large shirts forcing themselves into a medium or man with a size seven (7) feet purchasing a size 11 shoes. We often tend to wear the size that best fits; we should do the same with condoms. Condoms come in multiple sizes, wear your size! There is also good news for those who are allergic to latex condoms; an option is polyurethane. These are made from plastic but are also just as effective in preventing pregnancy and STIs.
Getting tested and knowing your status is also one other method of prevention. Organisations such as Jamaica AIDS Support for Life (JASL) continue to encourage individuals to be in the know as #TheRiskIsNotKnowing. It is true, if you are having an active sex life you should get an HIV test at least twice per year. When last did you get tested?
Sex is fun and doing it with multiple partners can seem even more fun, but fun often comes at a cost. What you can get free are condoms, from the Ministry of Health & Wellness or several other non-governmental organisations. Always remember to have “nuff condom… condom inna bungle.”
For more information contact:
Jamaica AIDS Support for Life
Tel: (876) 566-8792 / 925-0021
Email: [email protected]
Photo by Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition on Unsplash