for National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (February 2, 2021)
During one of my morning Instagram binges, I saw a story that someone reposted reading, “STI testing is self-care.” My immediate thought was, “Of course it is!” But then it occurred to me that the way we frame self-care does not include something so essential like sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing. But why is that? Isn’t self-care, literally, the care of one’s self and all it encompasses? Why do we frame it in a way that means spa dates, manicures, and mimosa-filled brunches? Now, do not get me wrong, self-care can mean all of those things; however, it doesn’t account for how inaccessible and privileged it is to have access to services like spas and fancy meals with bottomless mimosas. For most of us, we live on a strict budget that seldom includes 90-minute massages and hydrating facials in the middle of our day. While those things would bring most of us joy, it does not mean self-care is out of our reach.
So, what is self-care? To me, self-care is what keeps my body, mind, and spirit healthy and in a state of balance. For me, that means 10-minute meditations, exercise, drinking water, eating nourishing food, getting 8-hours or more of sleep, resting when my body feels worn out, laughing, spending time in the community with someone, self-pleasure, AND going to the doctor. That includes getting check-ups, going to therapy, and getting an STI test every six months to a year.
I realize that is way less sexy than foot massages and sunbathing on a beach (we can dream), but I know that I feel the best when my body is cared for and healthy. Through the years, I have learned that when my body is feeling run down, and I haven’t spent the time to check in with its needs, my mind gets run down and everything else around me feels super overwhelming and harder than it needs to be. By not checking in with my physical needs, I am stepping further away from balance, including having a healthy, happy sex life. My questions to you are – what do YOU need to feel whole, safe, and balanced? Do you have a self-care list, and does it include STI testing?
For my beautiful Black folks, as February rolls in and with it Black History Month, I invite you to add STI testing to your self-care list. In the world of sexual wellness, we are starting off this month with National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness day on Sunday, February 7th, 2021. It is a way for us to increase HIV testing, treatment, education, and community involvement for our community that is disproportionately affected by HIV and other STI diagnoses. It breaks my heart that, as Black folks, we make up approximately only 12% of the United States population but make up 43% of new HIV diagnoses and 42% of people currently living with HIV. Of those Black folks with new HIV diagnoses, those most affected are Black men (especially Black men who have sex with men), Black Trans folks, and Black women. In terms of those that identify as women, 59% of new HIV diagnoses among all women are Black women.
It is imperative that we include STI testing into our self-care regimen. We deserve healthy and whole bodies that can experience pleasure and awesome sex without adding another layer of baggage to the already heavy load of baggage trailing behind us. I invite you to call one of our awesome Prism Health North Texas clinics to set up an appointment that is FREE and safe. I also invite you to ask one of our awesome testers about PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) as a way of preventing HIV. Remember, self-care is self-love, and you are always deserving of love and wellness.
To make a testing appointment, click here to find a clinic location or call 214-521-5191.
All HIV and STI testings are free. Treatments for STIs are free, and treatment for HIV is at little to no cost.