Nelly Furtado might be a “Promiscuous” girl, but that doesn’t mean she can’t be safe, too.
Furtado, along with several other entertainers who play with risqué imagery and lyrics, hopes sexy subject matter can also be educational — especially this week, since National HIV Testing Day is Tuesday (June 27).
“When I was a little kid, Salt-N-Pepa’s ‘Let’s Talk About Sex’ came on the radio, and my mom was like, ‘What’s this?’ ” Furtado recalled. “And with my song, ‘Promiscuous,’ certain moms and dads are going to hear it and ask, ‘What’s this?’ And kids are going to ask questions about sex. It can only encourage the conversation.”
Eve hopes that the conversation goes even further — that talking about sex and its possible repercussions will lead people to protect and test themselves. “In my perfect world, people would hear about this and go out and get tested,” Eve said. “People would start talking about it and stop being scared.”
Granted, HIV can be a very scary topic: Over 39 million people worldwide are living with the deadly virus, and an estimated four million more became infected last year, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. “What I find the most alarming is that every 15 seconds, someone is infected with HIV,” Avril Lavigne said.
An estimated 250,000 Americans are unaware of their own HIV infections. But knowing whether you’re one of the infected helps you get treatment and helps stop the spread of the disease.
The process of getting an HIV test is as easy as asking your doctor for one, going to a clinic, or using an at-home kit. Rapid HIV antibody tests can generate results in five to 60 minutes with a simple finger-stick blood sample. And if you’re nervous about needles, you can even get tested by swabbing the inside of your gums.
“It’s quick and easy and it can make a difference,” said Pamela Anderson. “I have Hepatitis C, and there’s no cure for Hepatitis C or AIDS, so it’s really important to stop the spread of the disease since there is no cure.”
“The reality is that people get sick,” Furtado added. “But Magic Johnson showed that it’s not the end of your life, but the beginning of awareness. When Magic contracted HIV, that was a pivotal point in AIDS awareness. It showed that anybody could get this disease.”
Nelly Furtado explain why getting tested for HIV is more important than ever in this video clip.
“Somebody close to me was infected with AIDS, and I actually watched them die,” Kelly Rowland revealed. “That was painful to watch, and I think that once you see something like that, it definitely becomes real — it definitely becomes something that you want people to know about.”
Today, thousands of HIV-counseling and testing sites, state and local health departments and community-based HIV/ AIDS service providers are holding health fairs, hosting special testing-related events and operating extended hours. At some clinics, the tests are free or can be paid for on a sliding scale, based on income.
“You know, I’ve been through a lot of situations in my life where my behavior put me at risk by intravenous drug use and unprotected sex,” Dave Navarro said. “Especially starting out back in the late ’80s when awareness wasn’t so great about this disease. But it was there, and we didn’t know a lot about it. I’ve been saved by the grace of God, and for whatever reason, I’m still here. And if we’re going to survive as a people, we need to share information. The coolest thing that you can do is get educated, get protected, get tested.”
“I waited a while before I had sex,” Furtado said, “because sex is serious. There are serious consequences. But at the same time, you can’t expect people not to have sex. Love happens, and experimentation happens. And the more we talk about sex, the more awareness there will be. It doesn’t have to be a mystery.”