Everyone should talk openly, plus have access to the latest information, when it comes to sexual health. It's not just a matter of practicality. It’s a matter of life and death.
Unfortunately, not everyone has access to this critical health information, especially in the African, Caribbean, and Black community. Lack of knowledge about PrEP, and HIV self-testing makes it challenging for people in this community to seek the vital help they need. Layer on the stigma surrounding sex, and it becomes paralyzing.
For those who are Christian, it's essential to understand that being sexually active does not make you any less of a Christian
As a society, we need to normalize conversations about sexual health. Why should it be taboo or shameful to talk about sex? This information should occur in households and be part of the conversation from a young age.
Just because you talk about sex doesn't mean you love God any less. Or you are less of a Christian.
Stigma is a real problem, and it can be crippling. People can lose their whole community if they get tested and someone finds out. It's a loss of self, a loss of community, and a feeling of uncertainty.
For some, the fear of getting tested is so great that they choose not to get tested at all.
Once you overcome that fear, you'll realize that the worst thing you imagined is never that bad.
People who work in HIV counselling genuinely care and want to support you. They want to help you overcome the stigma. They want you to take control of your sexual health.
For those who are Christian, it's essential to understand that being sexually active does not make you any less of a Christian. It's important to have access to information to practice sex safely.
Safe sex is the best sex. It doesn't change who you are; you're still beautiful and worthy of love.
But what if there were ways to make these resources more accessible, yet anonymous? We know that this, among other ways, are all helpful. We need to continue to work towards making sexual health information and resources accessible to everyone, regardless of their race, religion, or sexual orientation.
We need to shift the narrative around sexual health from one of shame and stigma to one of empowerment and self-care.
By working to create more open and accepting spaces for conversations about sexual health, we can help break down barriers and reduce the stigma of HIV in our communities.
Lena Soje is a social worker inside pediatric palliative care in Toronto. She’s a mother, sister, and wife. A passionate activist for social justice, Lena hates injustice of all kinds, and sees the good in all people.
Lena is a Christian.
“Love and compassion is important, believe in forgiveness.”