It’s World Aids Day and I don’t know what a female condom is. Am I really so old school? I head over to Google it and learn that a female condom is different from a regular condom. But before getting this answer I took an unscientific poll and asked some women friends under 40. They did not know the difference. And then I asked my 50+ set. One of my peers knew what they are but had never used one. This suggests there may be a lot of us who do not know this score.
The female condom is a pouch with flexible rings at each end. The ring at the closed end holds the pouch in the vagina. The ring at the open end stays outside the vaginal opening during intercourse. It is inserted deep into the vagina. In this way it is different from the traditional condom that is inserted over the male penis. Oh, it is not a dental dam.
If this wasn’t such a serious topic I might not be so quick to share the specifics about the female condoms. But human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection andacquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) prevention are seldom discussed among the (boomer) population. Even though many of us continue to be sexually active yet carry dated ideas such as monogamy does not require the use of condoms.
Not until late 2005, early 2006 did statistics show that the incidence of HIV infection had increased dramatically among midlifers. Our frequency of viral infection has climbed, trust me. Yet many of us are late to realize that risky sexual behavior, such as inconsistent use of condoms, could be a death sentence.
In a PBS news interview last evening, Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease reminded me that the survival rate in the mid 1980′s was 6-8 month. Today with the right cocktail one can conceivably live 50 years. Clearly everyone who is sexually active must be tested, counseled and gotten into treatment no matter how young or old if the situation warrants it. And you’ll never know unless you are tested.
The World Aid’s Day theme is “Getting to zero: zero new HIV infections. Zero discrimination. Zero AIDS related deaths.” Let’s all address the seriousness of this global pandemic epidemic. Let’s not turn our backs on friends and love ones living with the virus or suffering from the disease. Let’s do what we can in our own lives to get to zero. I think I can do more.