Hysteria and Charlie Sheen
After the hysteria of Charlie Sheen’s HIV diagnosis, I decided to revisit this post. It did feel like the Salem Witch trials with updates daily from sources close to Sheen. I naively thought we had made strides on how we treat people who state they had the disease. But, sadly the hysteria probably made more people keep their status to themselves or never get tested. The latter is the scarier one because early diagnosis is key to fighting this disease, however, some will wait to get tested because they fear rejection and ridicule. I will not talk about Charlie Sheen the man too many people have an opinion about that. I will recognize the courage to say it out loud that you are HIV+ and willing to deal with what comes with that.
Sex and Fear
His truth reaffirmed my realization that my generation, which has grown up during the epidemic of AIDS, have a skewed view of intercourse and sexuality. I never thought about it that way until I read Scott Weiner’s article on huffpost “Coming Out of the Prep Closet.” He states that “Like many in my generation, I came of age associating sex with illness and death.” Sadly, this is now affecting current generations with STIs like HPV and its link to cancer.
When you view sex through that scope many experience fear, guilt, and shame, especially if one engages in risky behavior. It also causes us to lose compassion for those infected with STIs. Many times placing blame on those infected for even having sex in the first place when that is apart of human biology. Tom Teeman’s article in the Daily Beast confronts this with his piece “The Cruel HIV Stalking of Charlie Sheen Takes Us Back To The Ignorant 1980s.” Teeman states the rhetoric from tabloids would lead many to believe that, “his womanizing and debauchery had “caught up with him” we were told as if HIV was the inevitable punishment for said celebrity’s wild ways—a natural consequence.” So when you do decide to have sex, especially before marriage be prepared for a punishment.
Eliminate the Stigma
Sex is not just for procreation, it is for enjoyment, stress relief, and an expression of love. There are going to be times where one may not use a condom or other protection with a partner they are in a marriage or long-term relationship. Does that mean we stigmatize them? I believe we should not. Do we stigmatize individuals who get cancer who may have engaged in behavior like smoking? Or a person who has heart disease because of their diet?
When we get rid of the stigma of sex that is when education can begin. Teaching all adults and children how to engage in safe, loving, and enjoyable sexual relationships.
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