Why I'm Walking
“I have 2,000 condoms in my car.” This statement gets a giggle every time I say it. As a cisgender, straight, married, plump, white lady. I usually make this statement to people when my husband and 16-year-old son are close by.
It’s not the idea that I have condoms in my life, but the sheer quantity that gets the laugh. I have purple hair and wear neon eye shadow and teal lipstick, so nobody blinks when I come forth with (GASP!) subject matter like condoms…but the 2,000 part is pretty funny.
This week, I added dental dams and lube to this marvelous collection of prophylactics.
This part made ME giggle. See, as a 48-year-old woman who has now been in a relationship for half of my adult life, manufactured dental dams were not yet a product on the market when I was still “getting around.” I giggled because I was facing the prospect of distributing a product about which I previously had zero knowledge. Google to the rescue.
But it’s important to me. As I said, I am the mother of a teenager. We’ve been talking about pregnancy prevention since he was five years old. Disease prevention entered the conversation in the decade since. Keeping your offspring healthy is not a hard concept to get behind, so even though it’s hard to picture myself ever needing a sexual prophylactic again, I’ve got to stay on top of the products that are out there.
I have the pleasure (pun intended) of distributing these latex (and some non-latex) miracles in the CAMP Rehoboth area because I’m working with AIDS Delaware and the Delaware HIV Consortium on AIDS Walk Delaware on September 22.
These two organizations, and many partnering agencies, collaborate on the AIDS Walk to bring awareness to a health issue that continues to devastate well-known populations and that has now spread to groups of people who are unsuspecting contributors to the crisis and unexpected victims of misinformation.
⊲ HIV is on the rise in people over 50. Older adults who begin dating again after a divorce or the death of a partner may not use condoms if they are unaware of the risk of HIV. Assuming your demographic is not at risk can be a deadly mistake.
⊲ Delaware’s HIV epidemic disproportionately affects the African American population. This population composes 21% of Delaware’s citizens, but accounts for 61% and 67% of the State’s HIV and AIDS cases, respectively.
The CDC recommends that everyone 13 to 64 years old get tested for HIV at least once and that people at high risk of infection get tested more often.
I cannot imagine what life would be like re-entering the dating pool after 24 years. I cannot picture the guilt and fear I’d face getting naked in front of someone after my husband passes, hopefully when we are both in our nineties. I cannot conceive of picking up the pieces after a divorce and opening myself up to new sexual attention.
Yet this happens every day to widows and widowers and divorcees. In that situation, they are just as vulnerable, physically and emotionally, as the 22-year-old singleton, the 18-year-old sexual novitiate, the 30-year-old bachelor, and the 40-year-old who walked away from a lover.
So for me, protection from sexually transmitted infections hits closest to home. That could be me someday.
Thousands in Delaware need support. Organizations like AIDS Delaware, the Delaware HIV Consortium, CAMP Rehoboth, and more are out there driving people to appointments, keeping patients on their meds, offering housing services, and testing for free.
The beneficiaries of these services are as diverse as the Walk supporters, those who recognize that HIV/AIDS is an epidemic that affects everyone—individuals, families, and communities.
Walk with us on September 22. Walk in celebration of Delawareans living with HIV, in support of statewide HIV/AIDS services, and in honor of those who have passed. Register at aidswalkdelaware.org to make a donation, sign-up for the Walk, and start building a team. Individual walkers may sign-up at Grove Park prior to the start of the Walk.
And please come see me if you need a condom. ▼
AIDS Walk Delaware returns September 22
AIDS Walk Delaware returns to Grove Park in Rehoboth Beach on Sept. 22 from 9 a.m. to noon. Always a huge event in Rehoboth, this is the state’s largest HIV/AIDS fundraiser and awareness event, and CAMP Rehoboth benefits from funds raised from this event. Hundreds of people join the action in solidarity to support Delawareans living with HIV/AIDS.
The AIDS Walk begins and ends at Grove Park. Along the way, the camaraderie is evident, with walkers traversing the route for a great cause. Sponsors for the AIDS Walk include Christiana Care Health Systems, Walgreens, Wilmington City Council, CAMP Rehoboth, PharmBlue, Wawa, McCrery, Harra Funeral Homes, Bayhealth, OraSure, and the Rehoboth Beach Bears. Walkers may register at aidswalkdelaware.org and donors can use the same website to support a walker or team.
Join the CAMP Rehoboth unicorn team of walkers by contacting Salvatore Seeley. ▼