By James C. Wadley, Ph.D –Blackdoctor.org
If you’re like millions of single people, you’ll be going online this month in hopes of finding your next date — or potential mate. January is the peak month of online dating, with dating sites typically reporting a 25 to 30 percent increase in new members registrations between Dec. 26 and Feb. 14, as well as an increase in site searches and communication between members. As a relationship advice columnist, I have 15 excellent online dating tips that will save you time, energy, embarrassment, and the pain of sitting through long, drawn-out dates that leave you feeling deflated and depressed.
1. Post a recent photo of yourself that’s flattering and actually looks like you. Chances are you have one really fantastic photo of yourself that was taken at just the right angle where you look ever so slightly like Jennifer Lawrence or Ryan Gosling. Don’t post that picture. Post the picture that actually looks like you — you on a good day (in great lighting). You want people to know what to expect and not be disappointed when it’s you who shows up for your date. Here are some great tips for choosing the right profile photos.
2. Be unique and specific in your profile. Everyone “likes to have fun,” okay? Everyone “likes hanging out with friends,” “listening to music,” and “going out.” So tell people something they don’t already know about you, like that the beer you brewed in your backyard last summer won first prize in a home brewing contest, or that you do a brilliant version of “Tainted Love” at karaoke. Being specific helps you stand out and it also gives an easy conversation opener.
3. Avoid negative language in your profile. It should go without saying that mentioning an ex or how bad a past relationship was is a definite no-no when writing an online profile, but in the same vein, negative language (anything that starts with: “I hate,” “I don’t like,” “I don’t know”) all sound lame and cast a shadow over you, too.
4. Only respond to people who interest you. If you post a flattering photo and write a unique and upbeat profile, chances are you’ll get lots of responses from potential suitors. Do NOT respond to all of them. Only pick the ones who truly appeal to you to reply to. For all the others, no message is the message … and it’s a lot kinder (and faster) than saying, “Hmm, no thanks.”
5. Avoid Googling a potential match. Let’s say you happen to get a whole name — or enough info about a potential match that you’re able to track him or her on Google. Don’t do it! It’s more fun to learn stuff about people the old-fashioned way (through conversation), and you don’t risk making presumptions or inadvertently revealing that you know something you shouldn’t.
6. Keep your emails brief. A general rule of thumb: two paragraphs is ideal; respond to something that was shared with you; share something new about yourself; ask at least one question the other person can answer; and leave plenty to talk about for your first date.
7. If there’s interest, meet in person quickly. Respond to messages within a day or two (three tops!), and make plans to meet up in person after you’ve exchanged a handful of messages. If it’s been three weeks — or three months! — and you’re still emailing someone you haven’t made plans to meet, then what you’ve got is a pen-pal and there’s probably a reason things haven’t progressed past that.
8. Protect your privacy. Keep your address, place of employment, and other personal information to yourself until you’ve gone out on at least a couple dates. I mean, duh.
9. Meet in public and tell at least one person where you’ll be and what time you expect to be home.
10. Plan a first date that can be short, sweet, and low-key, like lunch or a coffee date. The last thing you need is to get stuck on some long, drawn-out date with someone who bores you to tears, so use the first date to see if there’s a spark (which you can figure out in about five minutes), and it there is one, you can plan something longer or more intimate for the next time.
11. Keep your options open! Just because you’ve had a few great email exchanges — or even a couple awesome dates — with someone doesn’t mean you should log off the site just yet. People — especially ones who are practically strangers to you — have a way of being flakey and can disappear, change their minds, or simply let you down. That’s not to say that won’t happen at any point in your relationship, but there’s a great likelihood of these things happening early on, so keep your options open until you’re ready to be exclusive.
12. Don’t date someone just for “practice.” Let’s say you’ve gotten a few responses to your profile, but no one is really knocking your socks off. It’s been a bit of a dry spell for you and you’re feeling a little rusty when it comes to dating, so you figure what’s the harm in going out with one of these people just to oil the ol’ engine. The harm is you’re leading someone on, wasting valuable time (theirs and yours) and creating bad karma in the process. If you know you aren’t interested, move on.
13. Don’t take the rejection personally. Not only can you not be everyone’s type, there are plenty of reasons people pass on potential matches that have little to do with the other person. Maybe you look too much like the ex who broke his heart. His loss.
14. Take a break if you’re feeling jaded. This goes back to #3. You don’t have to necessarily use negative language in your profile to reek of negativity. A bad attitude — and desperation — is just as bad. So, if you find yourself getting discouraged about the way things are going, close your account for a month or two, regroup and come back after you’ve cleared your head (and aura).
15. Try different sites. Another thing you can do if you’re feeling discouraged, is simply try a different site. Dating sites are like restaurants — some of them have better menus than others. So if nothing at your current spot sounds appetizing, move along.
By Arionne Nettles, BlackDoctor.org Contributor –Blackdoctor.org
If disagreements have put a strain on relationships with family, a new year may be just the right time to mend them.
According to the Bowen Theory, tension created within a family relationship negatively affects other relationships in that structure and when this tension is heightened or lasts for a long time, clinical problems can occur.
It’s important to confront tension because it never disappears, the theory says. Even when family members become emotionally cutoff from their family, they can’t fully run away from it. Those same issues will manifest in any “substitute” families they create. Many psychologists cite forgiveness as a major factor in letting go of such negative emotions.
Forgiveness, however, can be difficult to give when you’re hurt. To go into the new year with a clean slate, take these nine steps toward forgiveness that are recommended by the Stanford Forgiveness Project’s Dr. Fred Luskin:
1. Understand your own feelings.
Make sure that you can clearly state what bothers you about the situation and then share it with someone you trust.
2. Commit to forgiving.
Decide that you will take whatever action you need to feel better about what’s going on.
3. Focus on finding peace.
The goal is to find peace and understanding. Sometimes, you won’t always be able to reconcile the issue fully so instead, focus on accepting what happened.
4. Get a new view.
Look at the situation honestly. You’re likely letting past issue affect your present outlook so look at present circumstances to soothe those hurt feelings.
5. Control your stress.
When you start to get upset, look for a way to immediately reduce your stress.
6. Eliminate expectations.
Realize that you cannot control the actions of other people. Even if you wish someone would behave a certain way, don’t expect them to do so.
7. Channel your energy.
Use your energy for good by finding new ways to get what you want.
8. Look around for love.
Take the love and forgiveness that you can find in other places and internalize it.
9. Remember that you chose forgiveness.
Whenever you think about the situation that hurt you, include the fact that you chose to forgive.
Enough with the resolutions about diets and gym memberships. As midlifers, we know there are more important changes to make in your life for improved health and well-being, stronger self-esteem and better relationships. And while a few may involve the kitchen (wink, wink), nobody is talking about dieting here. H/T to Leah Millheiser, Nuelle’s chief scientific officer, for these marvelous Sexolutions:
1. The bedroom will not be used for electronics unless they vibrate.
No, we don’t mean your phone on vibrate mode. Bedrooms are for sleeping, relaxing and love-making. There is no room for smart phones, iPads, laptops or televisions. Bedrooms are sacred spaces and should be afforded their due.
2. Exercise all your muscles.
Working out stimulates the body and the brain and of course helps burn calories and releases endorphins. All good stuff, notes Millheiser. But, ahem, aren’t you forgetting something? The Kegel muscles — AKA the love muscles — wrap around the vagina and anus. Working them helps strengthen the pelvic floor, which supports the bladder, rectum, uterus, and vagina. Kegel exercises can improve your general health, give you better control over urinary and bowel functions, and also make sex sensational again because strong Kegels heighten your arousal, enhance your orgasms, improve blood circulation to the genitals, and increase vaginal tone and lubrication.
3. Think arousing thoughts.
Be in touch with your sensual self. Building self-confidence in your sex life will only improve it, Millheiser notes. Build a mind-body connection. News flash: You won’t be the first person in the world to see George Clooney when you close your eyes.
4. Install a bedroom door lock.
Maybe Millheiser has met your Golden Retriever who moves from the foot of the bed to between Mom and Dad when things start to get interesting. She says it is wise to keep the kids and pets at bay and distractions to a minimum. Clearly she knows from whence she speaks.
Let your partner know what you want. The more you discuss your likes and dislikes, the easier it is to have your needs met. Nobody is a mind reader. Being upset because you think your partner “should know” something makes no sense — and won’t improve your relationship or sex life. Tell them, not your best friend, when things aren’t happening for you.
6. Make it fun.
Sex toys, role-playing, whatever gets your engines revving — go for it.
1. Ditching the condom
Too many people forego the safer sex method and ditch the condom without speaking about it or without getting tested with their partners. Not only does this put one at risk for catching a STD but this also puts one at risk for unwanted pregnancy. Before deciding to practice “skin to skin” sex, speak to your partner about recent STD results and other birth control options. STDs are prevalent in the African-American community especially herpes, HPV and HIV which all currently have no published or known cure, according to the CDC, so choose to practice safer sex.
2. Assuming someone is STD free
STDs are asymptomatic and most people take on the role of assuming a person is free of infection because there are no symptoms present, but this is the worst assumption one can make. Before entering into a sexual experience with a new partner or with a previous partner that you may have been away from for a period of time, make the commitment to get tested together not only for your safety but to have a more pleasurable experienc
3. Assuming your partner knows how to please you
Both men and women tend to go into sexual situations assuming the other knows how to put on the moves to make the experience completely satisfying, but this isn’t always the case. To ensure your sexual experiences are pleasurable this year, get into the habit of speaking to your partner about your turn ons and turn offs. Let your partner know what he or she needs to do in order to take you to the place of ecstasy you seek. Communication will now and forever be a key component of healthy and satisfying sexual relations.
4. Keeping quiet about dissatisfaction
When a sexual experience has been less than pleasurable (see #3!), many tend to keep their opinions to themselves, but when in a long-term relationship with a partner this behavior is far from beneficial. Instead of keeping your dissatisfaction a secret from your beloved, take a stand and make the decision to talk to your partner about your desire to be completely satisfied by him or her and talk about ways to solve the issue. Make sure to bring the problem to your partner in a non-threatening way (telling someone they are inadequate in the sex department can deflate an ego quickly). By approaching the conversation with the desire to make the sexual experience better for both of you, the less than skilled partner won’t feel as if he or she is being attacked. Make the commitment to work through the issues with your partner and educate yourself on what can be done to improve while teaching your partner in the process.
5. Holding yourself back
This is an issue for women moreso than men and is a big mistake that robs them of the opportunity to experience a climax. Whatever may be holding you back—whether it be fear of being judged or being uncomfortable with your body— work on questioning those fears and placing them where they need to be (which is outside of the bedroom). Holding yourself back from truly experiencing your partner may cause frustration for both parties, so if image issues or a lack of sexual confidence are reasons behind the repression of sexual expression, talk to a sex therapist, counselor or even a sex coach to gain a fresh perspective on yourself and your sexuality in the new
Kovie Biakolo –Hellobeautiful.com
We hear so many stereotypes about Black women and Black men from everyone. And sometimes even as people in the Black community, we participate in perpetuating those stereotypes. This is especially true in the area of dating and relationships. So today, a Black woman (me) and a Black man (my friend Brandon who has graciously decided to do this with me) will be having a conversation about love and relationships between Black men and Black women.
Kovie Biakolo: So let’s get straight to the heart of the matter. Why does it sometimes appear that Black men and Black women have the worst stereotypes about each other. From the “loud Black” woman to the “no-good” Black men, people in the Black community perpetuate negative stereotypes about each other along gender lines. Is this a function of racism (and in the case of women, sexism too) that we’ve bought into? Or is something else going on between Black women and Black men?
Brandon Lewis: I would have to say a lot of it comes from the media. Every time you turn on the news you see how a Black man is being shot, or it’s their mug shot across the screen. When it comes to TV shows, Black men are gang members and the women are loud and obnoxious (Real Housewives/Basketball Wives/Love and Hip-Hop).
I’m not saying all shows are like that, but a majority of the mainstream shows that depict Black culture do so in a negative way. We see reinforcements of negative stereotypes constantly. They aren’t true, but when you see them enough, you can’t help but think that they are. I know I used to believe those stereotypes because that was what I was used to seeing when I started dating.
A lot of the Black women that attended my predominantly White high school were bussed in from the city. An overwhelming majority of them exhibited those “loud, ghetto” stereotypes, and I just associated that with Black women. That all changed when I went to college.
KB: I think that latter part is part of a pejorative and kind of classist objectification of the Black and poor, but I will save my lesson for another day and stay on-topic. I want to talk about a video that I came across recently. It’s really cringeworthy: a Black man and his White girlfriend are stereotyping Black women the entire time. So let’s talk about that.
Why has it become a “thing” that Black men are sometimes seen as unattracted to Black women? I mean from the statistics, most people still date intra-racially. But what do you think when you see a video like this when a Black man and his White girlfriend are basically being bigots towards Black women in general?
BL: Wow, that video made me sick. And I feel like an asshole because I used to think like that guy. But after thinking about it for a while, here are some thoughts after watching it:
1. The white girl looks like a discount Cher.
2. Is pulling out hair really that big a strike? (I know the importance of a Black woman’s hair.)
3. “Most Black girls expect the men to provide for them” – my Black girlfriend doesn’t need me to support her. She is the smartest woman I’ve dated and I’m not ashamed of that. We are both lucky to have each other in our lives.
4. “You won’t see a White women with 5 or 6 kids”…. I’m pretty sure there is a whole segment dedicated to this on TLC.
5. The hair thing might be a little spot on with spending all that money on hair.. but the paying the bills thing is a stretch, come on.
If anything, all this points out is that people like dealing with simple people and not a challenge. I’ve dated my share of White women but now I’m dating a Black woman. The only difference is that my current girlfriend challenges me, which could be interpreted as an attitude at times. It seems to me that the guy in the video doesn’t want a challenge. Dumb people are attracted to dumb people.But what are your thoughts when you see a Black man with a White woman vs. a Black woman and White man? Also, we’ve know each other for a while now and you know my dating history. Do you think I’ve changed since dating a Black woman vs. the White women in the past?
KB: You’re wrong for that Cher comment though! I’m so glad you asked that question. Because allow me to say this for the one millionth time: most Black women do not care that Black men date non-Black women as long as they are not out here bashing Black women.
There seems to be this stereotype that we care – we don’t. But then again, that’s most of us. There are admittedly some who have a problem with Black men dating non-Black women and that’s just kind of lame. Although I do understand the socio-cultural neglect that Black women sometimes feel. So for them it’s like, “Well, if Black men don’t want us, who will?”
To the above point, there is this stereotype that Black women do not like to date non-Black men. I can wholeheartedly say false. And when I see Black women with a White man (or non-Black man), I pretty much have the same opinion: I don’t care as long as you are not out here bashing any group of people, particularly on the basis of race.
I will say as a Black foreigner, the way interracial relationships are scrutinized in the United States was definitely something I had to get used to. But I understand it now because of the specific history of race relations which still affect us today. Still, honestly, date who you want. Just don’t do it because of self-hate, or prejudice, or falling into stereotypes you have about others. Certainly attraction is still riddled with prejudice, as is anything is in our society. Personally, though, as a girl who freely dates any race/culture of men, I always kind of hope that the guy I’m dating feels the same way about women. The one physical thing I’m prejudicial about is height!
To your question about you. I will say I’m just glad you opened your eyes. It’s been interesting and maybe kind of awesome watching you go from having those negative views about Black women to being a Black man who truly understands the kind of social and cultural things that Black women face – from a race and gender perspective. And so I think you’ve come a long way and of course, I like to think I had a little something to do with that. (Ha!)
But let’s talk about something else. People always talk about attraction in the black community and how colorism plays a role. How do you think this affects Black women and men differently?
BL: Disclaimer I’m light-skinned. Not sure if that will really play into my response, but I thought I should disclose that. I do think colorism is a big deal and I think it negatively affects Black women more than men. This one hits home for me. I used to discount a lot of dark-skinned women based on my personal prejudices from high school and middle school. It wasn’t until I was in college where I was surrounded by Black (African) women of all shades and my eyes were opened. As stupid as it sounds coming out of my mouth, the shade of your skin really doesn’t determine your personality.
Let me get back on track, I do feel that the media does show preferential treatment toward lighter-skinned Black women. I have noticed a shift and I’m happy with what I see. Big thanks to the First Lady, and the I love my skin movement.
KB: Nice touch with the African women, Brandon. I guess the one final question I have is how do you think new-age dating, in terms of apps and online, and even just the culture of young people dating in general, affects Black men and women? I think Black people, despite having websites and apps dedicated to “finding black love” or whatever, still like meeting each other in-person.
Do you think more Black people should take advantage of the tech age of dating? I mean for Black women in particular, it’s been made known that they benefit the least from these dating apps, especially in “mainstream ones.” But I want to hear your thoughts.
BL: I will confess that I used many of these new apps to find a relationship. That could be a whole other conversation. Luckily, I found my current girlfriend on one of them and we have been together for more than a year. That’s besides the fact – dating is hard work these days.
With these apps, I think Black men do have it a lot easier. Lucky for them, according to that wonderful video from earlier, there is an abundance of White women for them to match with. This is going to sound like a broken record, but Black women have it really hard. These apps just make it easier for them to experience what they deal with on a day-to-day basis, but from the comfort of their phone.
When I was using these sites a few years ago, a friend (Black woman) and I were comparing our responses. Her being a woman naturally received more interest than me, but it was all for the wrong reasons. Very few of them were genuine, an overwhelming majority of them were White guys saying that “they had never been with a Black woman” or asking them if they had been with a White guy.
All in all, this conversation has really made me reflect on how far I’ve come. I’m not sure if that was the intended purpose of this conversation but I’m glad it went in that direction. A few points to close on:
1. Man, I was an idiot back in the day.
2. You always manage to bring out good conversations when we speak.
Thanks again for giving me the opportunity.
As it turns out, Black men and Black women are doing just fine. Sure, we have a lot to work on in terms of uplifting each other in a society where we sometimes face the brunt of inequality.
In the end, whoever we lay our head next to and whatever politics ensues because of it, we should remember that in a special way that is human — but that is especially necessary when you are part of a disenfranchised group — we are each other’s keepers.
The holidays are a great time for family celebrations filled with good food, recollection of the good times and an opportunity to plan ahead
While you are restoring your kinships over caramel cake, use the time wisely to learn about your family medical history. Outside of knowing your personal medical history and medications, knowing your family medical history is the next best piece of information that you can understand. The doctor-patient relationship is just that — a relationship. It’s a melding of minds to allow for a collective understanding and decision-making.
Knowing what medical conditions your immediate and extended family members have conquered and are chronically managing is quite empowering and makes for a strong advocate on your own behalf.
Click here for full post.
By Arionne Nettles, BlackDoctor.org Contributor –Blackdoctor.org
When writer and director Ryan Coogler debuted his blockbuster Rocky Balboa film, “Creed,” the 29-year-old’s other half, Zinzi Evans, was right by his side. Evans is a film industry rising star in her own right. She produced the short film “Locks,” which Coogler wrote and directed.
But, when both parties have found success — or are working toward it — it may become harder to stay focused on their relationship.
Coogler created a similar storyline in Creed’s plot. Adonis (played by Michael B. Jordan) is on a professional mission, but so is his leading lady Bianca (played by Tessa Thompson). For Coogler, this is what the relationship dynamic can be like as more and more women aggressively pursue their career endeavors.
“What does love look like in the mid-2010s?” Coogler said in an interview with Comicbook.com.
“…she’s trying to make it in her thing, he’s trying to make it in his things and they’ve got to line up because if they don’t, then it won’t work out.”
Certified marriage and family therapist Nikhol B. Jackson understands the type of feelings that can arise in this increasingly common situation.
“Difficulties that often occur are feelings of neglect, resentment, loneliness, arrogance and self-doubt,” Jackson said. “A lack of sense of control or involvement typically creates those feelings.”
So, how do you and your partner align your separate lifestyles into one? Here are five ways that people successfully get — or keep — power couple status:
1. They build strong, supportive structures for their relationships.
Support really does go both ways. It’s important to make sure that your partner truly does feel supported, and it’s essential to give him or her the space to actually support you back.
“Supporting your mate does not mean you become a doormat and sit back and watch the world go by,” Jackson said. “It means you encourage them, praise them, assist when and where needed, constructively criticize when needed, etc. Supporting cannot be done without the opportunity and space to do so. The other spouse has to provide a safe space so that the support is welcomed.”
2. They manage their time.
Time is often described as a precious resource because once it’s spent, it never comes back. Both pushing toward your career goals and building a relationship requires a great deal of time, but you’ll have much more of it if you can recognize what activities are actually worth doing.
“I think that there is a difference between being successful and being busy,” Jackson said. “A person can be extremely busy, going here and there doing a number of things but not really successfully completing anything and excelling. Understanding which category that you and your mate fall into is key.”
3. They prioritize.
No matter how overused the terms may be, both time management and planning can keep you and your partner happy.
“My husband and I make it a priority to have date night at least one night a month,” Jackson said. “We have an awesome support system, which helps in this area, so often times we get an entire weekend to ourselves. It may sound cliché but you have to make time for the things that are important.”
4. They speak up.
When something is going on in your relationship that you don’t like or understand, it’s time to speak up.
“Communication is key,” Jackson said. “It is easy to discuss the good and comfortable stuff: schedules, planning, project ins and outs. We often times shy away from discussing the uncomfortable things. If there is an issue address it immediately. Small problems become mountains when left undressed and are much harder to overcome.”
5. They can work together, but are clear on expectations.
Collaborating with a partner who is in a related field can be a really good way to spend time together and provide added support, but avoid being in situations that may cause extra drama that you’ll likely take home with you. Clarity can help.
“Clearly identify roles, responsibilities, and duties,” Jackson said. “Leave no room for assumption.”
Many relationships and marriages often fail because of how two people grow together. The relationship either grows into love and harmony – or it grows into suspicion, doubt, resentment – eventually leading to a break up or divorce.
Improving our relationship is an ongoing adventure, because a sexy, exciting relationship takes playfulness, creativity, commitment and an open heart.
As a wise man once said you will never reach your full potential if you don’t open your heart.
Here are 7 ways to keep your relationship growing
Nothing hurts and breaks a relationship as quickly as dishonesty. When trust is lost it motivates behaviors such as criticism, rejection, and jealously.
Honesty and trust are the highest form of intimacy. If you tell a lie once then all your truths can become questionable. When you are honest, you produce honest actions and reactions.
Desire serves as the connection between love and sex.
The desire we feel for the other person is an indication of the liveliness and spontaneity in our lives and in our relationship.
Desire is to love what wood is for fire. Desire without love can result in a state of longing and neediness.
Part of human love is mysterious, magical, free flowing, and sometimes beyond our control.
Love is a word that covers a variety of feelings. Love is an emotion. On one hand it can be an absolute delight, while on the other hand it can be pure kindness.
Love reveals our potential to see, feel, touch, and smell, that which we’ve never dreamed of.
How we experience love is a choice. It can come from nowhere and feel like that person was made specifically for us.
Loving one another means accepting each other exactly as they are. You know everything about the person and welcome it all. You have seen all their traits and still want to be a part of their life.
Mature love is more than just a warm feeling it’s a way of life – like creating a priceless work of art. It requires acceptance, patience, and above all, daily practice.
One of the most important sentiments of human love is intimacy, because it’s one of the most profound expressions that means, “in-to-me-see.”
Intimacy is being accepting and being vulnerable. Intimacy doesn’t mean falling in love in the conventional sense of romantic infatuation, but emerging in love by understanding what makes you and your partner expand and grow together.
Open, honest communication should be part of every healthy relationship.
Important conversations shouldn’t be put off, but neither should they be initiated during awkward or inappropriate times. Bringing up bedroom issues during a holiday party is not the best place to have such a discussion.
Deep conversations require deep listening. Being honest when you feel angry isn’t easy, but if what you’re saying isn’t true, then nothing real is being shared.
Going into a conversation with an agenda may lead to missed opportunities for connection, deeper understanding of your partner, and their reasons for how they approach certain situations.
The more attached you are to the outcome the more disappointed you’ll be.
The way you view your strengths, opinions, emotions, and appearance is your single most important view of reality. Don’t abandon yourself.
Take responsibility for your actions and growth by giving top priority to the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual aspects of your life.
The way we define our selves is a choice. A choice we make every moment.
When you know who you are, you don’t allow others to define you.
When you neglect to take loving care of yourself — (by ignoring your own feelings, and judging yourself) you end up feeling needy and insecure. This feeds the fear of losing your partner or losing yourself.
Fear closes the heart. Love opens it. Healthy self-love starts by learning to be present and mindful of your feelings — rather than continuing to avoid them.
Being in a relationship requires connectedness and aloneness. It’s a great feeling when you can maintain your freedom and independence while also remaining deeply connected to your partner.
A relationship rooted in fear-based emotions such as jealousy, anger, insecurity, anxiety and ownership can only create doubt, suspicion, and neediness.
Trust your partner by trusting yourself first. Be open and honest with your partner by being open and honest with yourself first.
Cultivating a healthy relationship is an ongoing adventure — requiring playfulness, creativity, and commitment.
By Tyomi Morgan Posted Sept 1, 2015 –Blackdoctor.org
For the past two months the hashtag #BlackSexualHealthMatters has been a major push of the National Coalition for Sexual Health (NCSH) and the campaign couldn’t come at a greater time. The NCSH, which consists of over 50 leading health and medical organizations, issued a call-to-action to increase the use of essential preventive sexual health care services in the Black community. Backed by the CDC and several other health organizations across the nation, the NCSH has been monitoring the newly found cases of HIV arising in the African American community and the numbers are staggering. It is estimated that 1 in 16 Black men and 1 in 32 Black women will be diagnosed with HIV yearly, yet more than a third of the African American community has never been tested for the virus.
It appears that most of the newly diagnosed are contracting the virus unknowingly from partners that are unaware of their status, but for the couple that is aware of the positive status of one partner, there is a way to prevent the spread of HIV to an uninfected partner along with condom usage thanks to the use of PrEP (short for Pre-exposure prophylaxis).
Approved by the FDA in July of 2012 as a result of rigorous testing that has proved effective in preventing the spread of HIV to an unaffected partner if used regularly along with condoms, the pill Truvada (brand name) is a viable option for the at risk.
There is a great deal of information that the general public hasn’t yet adopted about the PrEP but NCSH member and executive director of Project Inform Dana Van Gorder has all of the knowledge down to a science. I had the chance to speak with Van Gorder about the benefits and side effects of PrEP, as well as the information one should share with their health care provider about this new form of HIV prevention.
If you are an individual at risk for HIV contraction or know someone who is at risk, take a look at Dana Van Gorder’s advice on how to prevent the spread of HIV and support the #BlackSexualHealthMatters campaign by educating yourself and getting tested.
“The world doesn’t currently have a vaccine to prevent HIV infection, although much work is being done to create one. But there are extremely effective ways to avoid getting HIV – and for HIV-positive people to pass it to others. Using condoms consistently for intercourse continues to be one proven way. HIV-negative people are recommended to use them with an HIV-positive partner, or a partner whose HIV status they aren’t 100 percent sure about.”
“Here is another way of preventing HIV: HIV-positive people are able to greatly lengthen their lives, AND can be up to 96 percent less likely to infect their partners, if they know their status and are effectively treated for HIV. That means taking HIV medications on a daily basis, as prescribed, and fully suppressing the virus. This is why the Obama administration is leading a major effort to make sure that everyone is tested for HIV, and that HIV-positive people are actively engaged in medical care and treatment.”
“But one other VERY exciting and effective new way to prevent HIV that all sexually active people should know about – especially black men who have sex with other men, and black women – is Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, or PrEP. PrEP involves having an HIV-negative person take a medication called Truvada every day in order to prevent getting HIV. Studies have shown that, when taken every day, PrEP can be up to 92 percent effective in preventing HIV.”
“PrEP may not be for everyone. But it can definitely help a lot of people who are working to stay HIV-negative. Truvada does have some side effects, but for most people they are pretty minor. Doing it as recommended includes seeing a medical provider every three months to make sure you are tolerating it and that it is working for you.”
“It’s important to know that many public and private insurers WILL cover the cost of PrEP. And, the company that makes Truvada, Gilead Sciences, has programs to provide free medication if someone doesn’t have another way to pay for it.”
“Another thing to know about PrEP is that people who can benefit from using it have every right to choose it. Sometimes family, friends or medical professionals argue that everyone can and should use a condom every time. But that’s not always that easy to do. Truvada has been approved by the FDA, and the Obama administration has recommended that people at risk for getting HIV consider using it. Anyone who IS thinking about it and decides to DO it should stick up for themselves. It’s not bad to be on PrEP.”