December 1 is World AIDS Day. It’s not a moment to celebrate, but rather a moment for reflection.
For years I thought the focus on AIDS was excessive. I began researching right before I became an escort and even more so during the writing of Book 1: The Foundation. The disease is terrible and worth every bit of attention it brings. At the moment, the only real weapons we have are prevention and education.
Women and AIDS
Because of the sexual physiology of women, we’re always at a higher risk for sexually-transmitted HIV/AIDS than men during heterosexual sex. Although there are great new medicines that allow someone with AIDS to live a longer, more productive life; not everyone has access to these drugs. Not getting becoming infected is better than having to worry about your health-care access.
An article on AIDS in the December 2006 Glamour (page 166) reports that experts estimate 250,000 people in the U.S. currently have AIDS but don’t know it [italics mine]. Women’s rate of infection is rising and make up 27 percent of new infections in the U.S. (infection rates differ from country to country).
U.S. Escorts and AIDS
Although the article didn’t discuss the issue of sex work, it’s highly probably that there are some escorts who are infected and don’t know it. A working escort with AIDS faces serious legal issues, puts all her sexual partners at risk, and jeopardizes her own future.
Getting tested is the only way to know for sure what’s going on in your body. After testing comes education. Learning about the real risks and real effects of the disease will bring about the awareness that can save your life.
Condoms, condoms, condoms. I can’t say it enough. Also, don’t mix bodily fluids and don’t use share needles of any kind. But for most women in most situations, using condoms is the key.
Using condoms for oral sex is recommended as well. The HIV/AIDS virus can enter sores or cuts in the mouth which gives it direct access to your bloodstream. And don’t forget that HIV/AIDS is not the only sexually-transmitted infection out there. Plenty of other diseases are easily transmitted through oral sex. Thought most of them can be cured, they deplete your immune system which could leave you more susceptible to HIV/AIDS infection if you encounter the virus.
Condoms. They work.
There are a number of options for getting tested, which you can read about here. If you’re in the L.A. area, you could always use the AIM HealthCare Clinic. Or any Planned Parenthood offers testing. Your local gay community will often have clinics as well.
Many states are phasing out totally anonymous testing so you may want to ask questions before you test just to make sure of what’s happening to your information (this is good advice for any medical situation).
Some tests still take a few days or even a couple weeks for results. There’s a new test which is supposed to give results in under an hour. Make sure to ask what test you will receive.
Even if you’re worried about your result, you have a much better chance of successfully living with AIDS if you discover the disease sooner than later. Your sexual partners and your future self will thank you.
For More Reading
UNAIDS.org is where I’ve done a lot of my HIV/AIDS research. The big picture, the world of AIDS, is presented on this site and it’s heartbreaking. The site also contains a lot of medical research and studies.
The CDC is a good basic site to learn about all sorts of diseases. It currently has a special page for World AIDS Day, so take a look.
Avert.org is another, high-level site devoted to HIV/AIDS. It also has a special World AIDS Day page, with pictures of victims of AIDS. It’s well worth taking a few minutes to read.
I’m not an AIDS activist…
I’m just someone whose eyes have been opened.
This is not to say that I renounce my former work as an escort. I don’t. Nor do I believe the job is too risky for other women. I don’t.
I believe that too many women, escorts and non-escorts, are taking risks out of ignorance. Not everyone will beat the odds. I hate to think a lack of knowledge led to the destruction of a life in a country where there’s free and easy access to knowledge all around us.
I valued my future when I worked as an escort. I took the precautions to make sure I’d reach my future. And I’m here.
I want every other escort to be able to say the same.