This is an issue that likely has many layers. It may be rooted in fear. Fear of losing their partner, fear of being perceived as promiscuous, or fear of being viewed as being accusatory of their mates. Unfortunately, discussing HIV testing can be an uncomfortable conversation, but still a very necessary one.
There’s an issue with men thinking it’s harder for them to contract HIV from a woman. Why?
Anatomically speaking, there is in fact a higher likelihood of transmission of HIV from men to women given the depository nature of male-female sexual intercourse. However, it is still possible for a man to contract HIV from a woman, and it does happen. While the amount of surface area potentially exposed to the HIV virus is smaller for a man than it is for a woman during intercourse, anytime there is an exchange of bodily fluids the risk exists. Black men represent 70% of all new HIV infections in the black community. Men still need to protect themselves whenever engaging in sexual activity.
What are some ways that women can get over the roadblock of, “If you’re ok, then I’m ok, right?”
Women need to begin taking on the responsibility of sexual health for themselves. It is not enough to assume that “If you’re ok, then I’m ok, right?” KNOW that you are ok. With all of the rapid testing methods and the availability of testing centers in most communities, and even now the ability for at-home HIV testing, there is no excuse to not being in charge of your own sexual health.
Why do men resist testing?
There are a lot of reasons men don’t get tested. First of all, fear is a huge factor among men. There is an old adage, “what you don’t know, won’t hurt you.” However, in our community as it relates to HIV, “what we don’t know is killing us!” Another huge issue is the misconception that HIV only affects certain “high risk” groups like IV drug users or homosexual men and the stigma attached with it. Therefore, men feel if they are getting tested, it will be assumed we belong in one of these “high risk” groups. When in reality, HIV can affect anyone.
What can a woman do when a man is resistant to using a condom, especially in a committed relationship?
A woman has the power and should exercise the right to be in control of her sexual health. If her man is resistant to using a condom, she can be resistant to agreeing to sexual activity. Years ago there used to be a saying “No glove, no love.” We need to feel empowered to take control in protecting ourselves and our health, even if it means saying no.