Yesterday we talked about the social construction of HIV in my social justice class. I showed my class videos about gay cancer, Ryan White, and the AIDS Quilt. Only a few of my students knew anything about the devastating history of HIV.
None of them realized it took a straight, white, Christian boy from middle America to spur a nation into action to stop the carnage wrought by AIDS. As with most things in this nation, his story was more palatable than the deaths of thousands of gay men.
Here are the top ways my students believe we can end the spread of HIV in America:
Solution: Normalize the use of condoms
Problem: Most men can’t get pregnant – Condoms prevent babies – Babies are Gods will – Why normalize the use of condoms?
Solution: Invest in and expand early childhood education
Problem: Risk prevention factors and resiliency are learned early in a child’s life.
Solution: Invest in and expand programs that teach youth emotion regulation
Problem: We aren’t taught how to express our feelings, no matter what they are.
Solution: Invest in and expand programs that teach sex education yearly
Problem: Sex education isn’t consistent and it focuses on heteronormative pregnancy prevention AND doesn’t even begin to discuss LUBE as a means to stop the spread of HIV.
Solution: Invest in and expand programs that discourage the use of opioids
Problem: Drug prevention programs don’t focus on harm reduction, instead they focus on shame and blame.
I believe that if we take some of these innovative ideas to heart we can seriously stir the pot in a system that has forgotten that people still get HIV. ARV meds and PREP aren’t enough and they come with a high price tag.
Let’s seriously fuck shit up by going deeper and normalizing the use of condoms and building self esteem in young people.
It’s Friday, fuck shit up y’all,
Dr. Melissa Bird
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