When it comes to sexual advice, no truer statement has been made since the day our Parents and/or Sex Education Teachers taught us the importance of using protection whenever we might choose to be sexually active.

I remember when they passed out condoms at my high school. That was my first giggle inducing tutorial on the proper way to use those latex saviors in order to lower the potential for pregnancy or getting infected with an STD. Although those blushing moments always crinkled the corners of my lips whenever my virgin ears and eyes were a witness to its importance, it was only the precursor to the troubling road ahead, if you opted to ignore the safety within each valuable lesson.

So when do you pop the question?

With the number of HIV incidents rising every year, (in 2006 alone, an estimated 53,600 people in the US were newly infected with HIV) I’d say the sooner you get down on bended knee for the sake of your health, the better off you’ll be.

Through all the pushing of condoms and the promotion of safe sex that we were taught when growing up, were we ever really offered guidance or given any blueprints on courage, that would help us in discerning how or when to ask our partner to know their status?

Good question.

The circulating argument was always about being personally responsible for our own checkups and results, but like most horizontal dances it takes two to tango. When you’re together in bed, and going down for that dip, the idea of “knowing” becomes a shared responsibility.

It’s never been an argument about whether or not you need to ask a partner to look into learning their HIV status; it’s a given that you should. Whether or not the question mark lingers around the idea of knowing when it’s the proper time to bring it up.

For me personally, I’m a fan of asking during that moment when you’re ready to take the relationship from the simplicity of holding hands, to the intimacy within your bedroom. But since slow moving in relationships is almost a lost art, some of us are already sexually active with a person that we aren’t truly ready to Love. Those individuals might find comfort in waiting to ask their partner during the moment when they know they’re ready for something more than a little nighttime action. (I hope during the waiting period, you’re all opting to be extra safe while in limbo.)

So how do you ask?

Nowadays commercials and magazines tell us to “Just Do It.” Just grab your partner by the hand and say, “Hey, you should take an HIV test.” But, if life were as easy as a Nike’ Commercial, most of us would be further ahead in our endeavors if we had the will to just do everything we set out to accomplish.

We all know why it’s important to take an HIV exam, but it doesn’t mean we’re all proactive enough to jump on the train. Some of us still turn a side eye when someone mentions the idea of making that appointment at our local clinic. Often times it’s as simple as the fear of knowing the unknown and other challenges come from our lack of intelligence on the subject matter.

At any rate, before I list a few helpful tips on how to ask someone to get tested, I want to throw out a few truths to consider when it comes to why some might not think they need to be personally worried about contracting HIV.

Did you take a look at my man? Someone that attractive can’t have HIV.
There’s a great amount of people out here who still think HIV/AIDS has a certain look or comes prepackaged in a specific armor. They do an “Eye Test” when out looking for a partner. “He looks safe.”

You can’t see HIV/AIDS with the naked eye, so to assume that only an average looking person or those who we might deem unattractive are the only factors for determining who may or may not have the disease is ridiculous. Remember, everyone is at risk if you’re not safe and are sexually active.

I use condoms every time I’m sexually active, so I don’t need to take a test.

I hear this statement made often amongst women and men who forget that HIV/AIDS and other STD’s can be passed along during oral sex. We all remember Jamie Foxx’s dilemma in the film Booty Call. As sidesplitting as the humor was as he was forced to go on a night long adventure for a few condoms in order to score, the reality of it all is no laughing matter. Here’s a refresher course on all the channels in which one can become infected by HIV according to www.apositivelife.com.

*Semen (pre-seminal fluid also)
*Vaginal secretions
*Breast milk

We’ve been intimate for so long that it’s pointless to bring it up.

Don’t wake the sleeping giant. Often times unmarried couples get so caught up in their version of the “honeymoon stage” that they forget to plan now for a healthy life after they walk towards the alter.

There are plenty of cases out there from married couples who find out that their new spouse has HIV because of a pregnancy exam. There’s even those infamous stories about individuals who’ve been in a relationship with someone for years and become infected because a mate cheated without using protection. Remember, it’s never too late to choose to live. The only person you can trust is yourself, so if you’re uncertain about anything when it comes to your partner, the best medicine is clarification. Get tested.

And now, here’s some great ways that’ll help you ask your partner to get tested.

Make it a Shared Experience.
When you actually get the courage to sit down and ask someone to get tested, it can leave you vulnerable, but more so the person you’re requiring to make the big move. Often times the first response one might have is a defensive one. Take care in the way you bring it up and mind your tone. Be soft in your approach. They may be offended that you suggested they take a test in the first place, “Are you trying to say I have something?,” but that feeling will likely subside.

If you put yourself out there and word it in a way that shows you’re also willing to take the brave walk with them, “I think it would be smart if we both got tested for the sake of our health,” then you stand a better chance of getting them to follow through when you offer for the two of you to do it together.

Be Tested Already.
If you come home equipped with your STD/HIV test results and share them with your partner, you’re not only relaying to them how much you care about their health by getting tested, but you’re also sneaking in a suggestion that they should care about yours too and do the same. You can even secure that assumption by advising them that you in fact got tested for them, and hope they’ll in turn oblige you with the same courtesy.

Present them with knowledge.
When the media offers up estimates pertaining to the number of individuals each year that become newly infected with HIV, people perk an ear up to listen. Even if it’s just for a short amount of time, not only are they paying attention to the risks, but they’re also more willing to run out and get tested.

The Center for Disease Control states, “while blacks represent approximately 12 percent of the U.S. population, they account for almost half of people living with HIV in the U.S. (46%, or an estimated 510,100 persons), as well as nearly half of new infections each year (45%, or an estimated 24,900 infections).”

If you present someone with this information or show them a place where they can find it, it might aid in your mission to relay the importance of knowing whether you are or aren’t HIV Positive. Remember: As startling as those numbers are, just imagine the unknown number of individuals out here who have HIV/AIDS but refuse to get tested for one reason or another.

Stand your ground.
When it comes to what’s truly important to you, there doesn’t have to be a strategy to get you to the finish line. Ask and you shall receive, as long as your requests are within reason. Asking someone to know more about their health isn’t a farfetched request by any means. It’s one of the smartest moves two people can make towards securing a healthy future for one another.

Remember: If the person you’re with has a problem with getting tested, remind yourself that if they keep a closed eye on their own health, then when it comes to your life, you should expect a duplicate behavior; nothing. Don’t waste your time with someone who doesn’t care about how much time either of you have to live past today. Get tested, or move on.

Clutchettes and Gents, February 7, 2010 is National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD). Each one, teach one. You can help build awareness by spreading the word.

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