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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

With Great Sexual Power Comes Great Responsibility

Dear Mistress Maeve,

I had lunch with a dear friend last weekend, and she told me about the new guy she's been "dating." They've been seeing each other for about a month, but it's not serious. In fact, from what I can tell, it's pretty much a "booty call" situation. Being the good friend that I am, I asked her if they were using condoms. To my surprise, she informed me that they are not using protection. She said that she's on the pill, that she "feels comfortable with him," and that he told her he'd been "tested." I froze; I didn't know what to say. I am really worried about her, and I'm so mad at myself for not saying anything to her over lunch. What should I do?


Dear Lisa,

22711839You have every right to be worried; your friend is not being smart. I have an incredibly hard time believing that people still think they're immune to HIV — a virus that knows no race, class, age, sexual orientation or education level. Statistics say that an estimated one million people are living with HIV in the United States, and a staggering number of those infected do not know their status. We all need to be protected, especially if we're having casual sex.

Lisa, you need to have a chat with your friend. I know it's uncomfortable, but if she really is a "dear" friend, you're the best one to address this issue. Let her know that you want to talk to her about using protection because you love her and care about her future. She needs to know that one night of pleasure can lead to a lifetime of illness and regret. If HIV seems too abstract for her, remind her that herpes, gonorrhea, chlamydia and HPV are also knocking at her door.

Unfortunately, for some people, it takes a scare like pregnancy or the tangible threat of an STD to make them realize they need to protect their bodies. I hope this is not what it will take for your friend to wake up and take care of herself. If you need further ammunition for your talk, check out Vermont CARES — Vermont's largest AIDS and HIV service and prevention organization. They're always willing to answer questions and offer support.

Good luck,

p.s. You can get FREE condoms at both Vermont CARES and the RU12 Community Center. I believe both places also offer lube, dental dams and female condoms. Protecting yourself can be expensive, and the nice folks at these organizations want to protect you free of charge. If anyone knows of other free condom resources, please leave me a comment.

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