I respect, admire and may even have a crush on Joe Mannetti…I always get a little excited by people who can talk real honest sense. My heart is pounding with joy…why? Because Joe has kindly agreed to contribute to this blog more regularly.
Joe told me, “Your mission to promote Harvey Milk‘s message of “NEVER BLENDING IN” by celebrating diversity and cherishing those who dare to be different is something I am proud to share with you, David Watters!”
“I have never considered myself a role model. My life was not about always doing the right thing in order to always please the right people. Quite the contrary, I chose to allow myself to take risks, make mistakes, and explore pushing the envelope in order discover the life that was right for me. My best advice is to avoid being anything like me. I have spent a lifetime trying to get out of my own way unsuccessfully.” – Joe Mannetti
Below is a post that I saw on his facebook page, which had to be shared.
WHY DO PEOPLE STILL HAVE UNPROTECTED SEX?
I have been an HIV outreach health educator, fundraiser, and HIV testing counselor for over two decades. I have seen many changes take place over the course of time. But, sadly, one of them is not the fact that people are still getting infected with HIV while having unprotected sex. True, there is no such thing as 100% fool-proof SAFE sex if you are sexually active. You can engage in SAFER sex. But, as long as you are having sex, and most people still understandably enjoy it, you are potentially at some risk of potential infection from STDs (which are often bacterial and curable when treated properly in time) or viruses like HIV (which are treatable, but not curable at present).
So, perhaps if we try to understand without blaming or shaming anyone with an open communication about sexuality and how we connect, we might get somewhere.
1. While some people claim that sexual abstinence works for them, it does not work for a large majority of folks. Most people will not stop having sex. Sex is a vital part of so many lives and relationships. Recognizing the value and importance of sex, sexuality, and sexual behavior in our lives is pivotal to any discussion on the topic of HIV and STD infection rates. If you are uncomfortable with discussing sexuality and sexual issues, I think that you should re-consider your ability to engage in any kind of effective outreach that confronts HIV/AIDS and STDs.
2. Sexuality, sexual behavior, and sexual diversity are complex issues that have many layers to them. Who we are, how we identify, and how we approach sex with others in our lives is as individual, personal, and multi-faceted as each and every one of us. One size and one way does not fit all for any variety of reasons. That has to be respected, understood, and discussed openly if we are going to be effective with any kind of outreach.
3. Please, do not assume that all people who engage in unprotected sex and have become infected with HIV/AIDS or other STDs are careless, irresponsible, or uneducated about the facts. This is not always the case.
4. People who knowingly have unprotected sex with their partners may:
have both tested HIV-Negative together without realizing that one of them was still in the window period (it can take three to six months after having unprotected sex and being exposed to HIV for the Positive results to show up in an HIV test).
done so while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
done so out of a need for the extra money that many sex workers living on the streets need with clients who will pay them more to have sex without condoms.
have cultural beliefs about condoms, intimacy, and sexuality that need to be discussed and understood.
may be lonely, seeking a sense of intense connection with someone, or afraid to negotiate boundaries with sex partners for fear of rejection.
may be afraid or unable to purchase condoms for any variety of reasons.
Yes, I think we need to be careful about making excuses that let people off the hook regarding the consequences of their behaviors. But, I do not think that there is any excuse for intolerance or judgmental moral finger pointing that shuts people down and ends an open dialogue about sexual behaviors that can lead to HIV or STD infections. The ultimate solution, of course, will be a vaccine and a cure for viruses.like HIV. Until those things happen, I do not think that shame, blame, or stigma will help bridge the gap in creating effective outreach for sexually active people seeking connections with others
What do you think?.