The month of December marks "World Aids Awareness," which is designed to empower and educate people with information about HIV/AIDS. Itʼs reported that an estimated 34 million people around the world are living with HIV. Every 9 minutes, someone is infected with HIV. Do you know your health status?
So many of us have heard information and seen commercials spreading awareness about HIV/AIDS, yet weʼve become desensitized to the risks and impact of this disease. In comparison to other ethnicities, black people account for more HIV/AIDS cases than any other racial or ethnic group in the United States. The impact of health care, low income families/communities, and the fear of knowing oneʼs status has many people living their lives carelessly. According to the Centers for Disease Control, Black Americans accounted for 44% of all new HIV infections, despite being only 14% of the
U.S. population. The effects of HIV are far reaching beyond America, in places like Jamaica and the continent of Africa.
Many urban communities around the U.S., in cities such as Detroit, are being affected by HIV/AIDS. Approximately 75% of all new HIV/AIDS cases in the city of Detroit are between the ages of 13 and 19. The youth population is being hit hard with this disease and we must impress upon our young people that HIV/AIDS, STDs, and STIs are 100% preventable. The importance of self-control, self-value, and making proper decisions will ultimately impact their lives.
We must break the stigma, shame, and silence, but most importantly we must break the cycle. So many people are dying not just physically but psychologically, educationally, and spiritually.
There is a distorted message in the media and music about sex. Is there any conversation about responsibility or is it just about promiscuity? Much of the "popular" music today doesnʼt feed or nurture our value on the inside, itʼs only a stimulus to bump and grind on the outside.
The worldʼs message is to act now and worry about the consequences later. In other words, "YOLO" (You Only Live Once) which is a saying popularized by rappers Lil Wayne and Drake. However, "YOLO" can be remixed to "You Only Learn Once"
because sometimes in life you donʼt get second chances and you only get one chance to make the right decision the first time.
What message is being sent when rappers, 2 Chainz and Kanye West, give you their 2 cents in their "Birthday Song?" The rappers explicitly declare that "all they want for their birthday"...is a round gluteus maximus and a girl who has lost her self respect. Trey Songz melodiously sings that heʼs about to "dive in" as if a womanʼs body is a swimming pool and anybody can go for a lap.
How do we internalize these messages? Many of our youth are listening to the radio and watching TV, literally in a sex mis-education class, making impulsive decisions in minutes that impacts their lives for years. We often make the mistake of doing permanent things in temporary situations. The permanent decisions we make in temporary situations with temporary people, often leave us with permanent scars.
Youʼre more than what the eye can see and youʼre more than your assets. Start loving who you are! When we understand the value that God has placed in us, we will begin to see it in ourselves and each other. We must teach self-respect, empower others through morals, principles, and character development.
Youʼve got to see value in who you are. Itʼs not about what you have that makes you significant, itʼs who you are that makes you significant and special. If you canʼt love yourself, then you canʼt expect anybody else to love you.
Itʼs time to WAKE UP!
- Black youth represent 15% of U.S. teenagers, but account for 65% of all new HIV/AIDS cases.
- 21 years ago basketball superstar, Magic Johnson announced that he had HIV...21 years later, black people make up almost 50% of all new HIV/AIDS cases.
- Wake up...HIV/AIDS affects black youth between the ages of 13-19, more than any other demographic.
- Wake up...Black people account for more HIV/AIDS cases than any other racial or ethnic group in the U.S.
- Wake up...get tested, get informed, and empower somebody else with information to change their life!
Behind every statistic is a story, behind every fact is a face, and the fact of the matter is that you are more than just at risk...you are at promise! Today is the day to give birth to the purpose, possibilities, and promise that resides within you.
Will you be a statistic or a standout?
The tragedy is to be physically alive and mentally/spiritually sleep! Too many of us are just existing and not living. Today is the day for you to begin to live with purpose, live on purpose, and live for a purpose.
Live with self control, expand your mind, and embark upon your dream. Donʼt become a statistic, because you were born to be a standout. Donʼt follow the trend, set it. Use your education, gifts, talents, and mind to think positive in every negative situation.
Look at HIV in the face and say, "I have HOPE, INSPIRATION, and VICTORY!"
- Eddie Connor