This commentary by Bishop Noel Jones is the third post in a series featuring prominent African-American leaders on HIV/AIDS in the African-American community, coordinated by the Black AIDS Institute and the National Newspaper Publishers Association. Check back each week for the next piece in the series!
When I was coming along, in Spanish Town, Jamaica, it was “If you get the girl pregnant….” Today, it is, “If you get a disease….”
So the whole thing has changed considerably. We have moved now from getting somebody pregnant to getting yourself killed.
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Let's be serious. People are having sex. Black Americans have a responsibility to prevent anything that takes life. First, we need to talk about it. We need to deal with it. We need to shout it on the housetop.
How serious is the epidemic of HIV/AIDS in the black community? I am telling you it is extraordinarily SERIOUS. Of the 38,584 people diagnosed with HIV/AIDS in the U.S. three years ago, approximately half of them – 19,206 – were African-American, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This is outlandish for a race whose population of America is only 12 percent.
It has become this serious because for some reason black folk do not want to use condoms. The sisters say they don't feel anything and the men, of course, do not want any kind of restriction. They just want to feel, and feel and feel. And the women want to feel and feel and feel.
Meanwhile, the disease is going rampant. There are people who are on the down low who are jumping between men and women with the homosexual thing, and now they are infecting the sisters just so drastically and crazily because nobody wants to be protected. The best thing is to be with one woman in a marriage and close the door on all of the promiscuous behavior.
If you are not going to do that, somebody at least needs to be protected. And I would say to a woman who does not know where her man is, and does not know what he is doing, protect yourself. If he insists on not using any protection, don't go with him. PERIOD! It is crazy what is going on here!
The church adamantly declares that to allow the use of condoms is to condone and even to promote illicit sexual activity. Come on. What about the woman who is married to a man, and is faithful to him and he is playing around? What about the man who is married to a woman who is playing around? Use a condom on suspicion, or would you rather die with the evidence? I would certainly give to my children different advice as a Pastor from the advice of a father.
We have to widen our scope and undo some of our traditional morals that have kept us bound. If you have a child who is running around, you have to change your attitude about whether or not to sanction the use of condoms.
It seems to me, the most earnest Christians would at least want their children to stay alive long enough to be saved. If you have a child who is promiscuous, it is not about whether or not you are condoning their behavior. You know what they are doing. In that case, your commitment not to use condoms, give condoms or talk about condoms has got to increase to another level.
Finally, testing is crucial. I would not marry anybody if I were not going to go with them to be tested. We both need to be tested. End of story. Why? It’s because I want some security if I am going into marriage.
Sexuality seems to overshadow our mindset and our thinking, making us irrational. As a result, people are dying everywhere. In Africa, men are raping young girls, thinking that if they go younger, it will heal the disease. It will never happen.
We need some control. Just to say NO. People are not saying NO to sex. People are going to bed. Therefore, we need to talk about abstinence. We need to raise our boys as well as our girls to say NO! NO! NO!
When we go to Africa with our teams and when we go into the inner-city in America where folk often don't have money, sex is recreation. It is pleasure. It is fun. It doesn’t cost anything … but your life.