According to Forbes in 2017, black women were emerging as leaders across all industries: academia, government, and nonprofit organizations. Countless media outlets also reported that black women are the fastest group of entrepreneurs in the U.S. Also, let's not forget about the faith we possess, the workout regimens we are incorporating, our spiritual journeys to mental health peace, and most importantly, exemplifying #BlackGirlMagic.
If black women were a high school superlative, we would be "Best All Around". However, there is one area we are losing in. According to the CDC, black women have HIV rates that are three times higher than their non ethnic-counterparts. According to HIV.gov, in a study conducted in 2016, black women made up over 61% of new women's HIV diagnosis cases in the US.
We are drinking water, glowing up, and successfully securing the bag, but what about our HIV status? What about our blood health?
Black America is nearly 12% of the U.S. population, but makes up 44% of new HIV diagnoses. 1 in 7 people with HIV are unaware of their HIV infection. Ages 25-34 is the highest age group newly diagnosed with HIV, followed by the 20-24 age group as second, and then ages 35-44 following as third. Our blood health and immune system must be prioritized so that we are able to do all the things that we as super women can do.
What some of us don't realize is that it only takes one partner who is HIV positive to expose you to the disease, someone you trust and love, someone who might not know their status at all.
Let's be clear, everyone is at risk of contracting HIV by having unprotected sex.
That's why as women we must not be afraid to take ownership of our sexual health and well-being, just like we are fearless in many other areas in our life. We must stand up for ourselves, love ourselves even more than we already do, and protect our bodies and our immune systems. We can do this by simply asking our partners about their HIV status and encouraging them to wrap it up, or to go get tested together as a couple, especially if no condom usage is your sexual normal.
When engaging in any kind of sexual relationship, you can't forget that communication is key. Don't be afraid to ask your partner to go tested with you or wear a condom if you don't know his status. Not knowing your status can sound like:
"I dont know."
"I got tested two years ago, I'm good."
"I know for sure I'm good."
All great examples of what is NOT AN HIV STATUS.
If you are sexually active, it is recommended that you are tested at least once a year, but twice a year is great, and every three months is even more amazing. HIV takes up to 90 days to show antibodies on a test, so it's important to check-in as often as possible if you've recently had sex with a partner whose status you're unsure of.
HIV tests are free and there are a number of ways you can go about going to get tested. I personally like the mobile testing vans you see out and about with no appointment needed, but there are many testing events and of course healthcare providers in your area who can provide these tests at no cost. Choose what's best for you and get tested.
You deserve to know your status because you're worth it.
You can also visit www.CDC.gov/ActAgainstAIDS for tons of resources that will answer many of your questions, like
- Where to find a place to get free confidential testing?
- What to do if you tested negative? (Because there are things you should continue to do to stay with a negative result.)
- Where to find PrEP, the once a day pill to prevent HIV if taken daily, and how you can talk to your healthcare provider about your prevention options.
- What to do if you test positive for HIV and what are the next health steps? (Because you don't want to wait to the last minute of treating your HIV that it has transitioned to AIDS.)
I am personally taking a front seat when it comes to black women and our sexual health with Project A & M. Inc.: #DoingIT, which I created in memory of my mother and twin brothers who lost their lives to HIV/AIDS complications.
#DoingIT is a national HIV testing and prevention campaign within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Act Against AIDS initiative to help reduce HIV stigma around testing. My organization encourages all adults, 18-64, to start Doing It (aka) testing for HIV.
With that knowledge, we hope to equip those individuals with the tools to move forward accordingly.
So, what do you say? Are you ready to know your status and take ownership of your sexual health? Get tested and join the #DoingIt movement today!
Featured image by Shutterstock
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Angela "Myammee" Pitts has emerged since her VH1 reality show days. Since then, she wears many titles but loves her creativity within her passion projects like #MyammeeTV and her HIV/AIDS awareness and advocacy project; Project A&M Inc. in memory of her Mother and twin brothers who lost their battle with HIV/AIDS complications in 1992, 1996, and 2008. Myammee strives to tell the world through conferences, events, her social media platforms, and the project's YouTube channel that: "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, when it comes to HIV."
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
2023 has become the year of celebrity breakups with headlines breaking left and right about celebs filing for divorce or ending high-profile relationships. The latest couple to announce their dissolution? British actress Jodie Turner-Smith. TMZ reported that Jodie has filed for a divorce from her husband, Dawson Creek alum Joshua Jackson.
As far as her reason for calling it quits, Jodie cited "irreconcilable differences," according to TMZ, and has requested joint custody of the couple's daughter, Juno Rose Diana Jackson. Late last year there were rumblings of there being "trouble in paradise" for the couple after the media realized they were no longer following each other on Instagram.
Those rumors were more than laid to rest when Jodie and Joshua went to the 2023 Oscars together earlier this year, and even more recently, when they celebrated her birthday together last month during the September unveiling of the Lotus Emeya.
Jodie Turner-Smith celebrates her birthday with husband Joshua Jackson at the unveiling of the new fully-electric Lotus Emeya on September 07, 2023 in New York City.
Brian Ach/Getty Images for Lotus
Despite seeming particularly happy and in love, perhaps the writing was already written on the wall even then. In the past, Jodie has been very celebratory publicly about her love for her estranged husband, even boldly recounting their love story for the books in a 2021 interview with Seth Meyers.
When Jodie and Joshua met, it was while at his birthday party in 2018. Their relationship was hot and heavy from the start, with Jodie openly noting that they began as a "one-night stand." During her 2021 interview with Seth Meyers, she jokingly referred to their love story as a "three-year one-night stand." She shared:
"First of all, I saw him before he saw me and when I saw him, I was like, 'I want that.' And then when he saw me, I just pretended like I didn't see him. He had to yell across the room to me, and I was wearing this T-shirt from a movie called Sorry to Bother You and [actress] Tessa Thompson plays a character called Detroit, and she has this T-shirt that says, 'The Future Is Female Ejaculation.'
"And so, he shouts across the room, 'Detroit!' He comes over and… does this really cute, charming thing that he does and just all night -- he just basically followed me around the party."
The couple were together from that moment forth, and even made things "Instagram official" less than two weeks later while on a dinner date. Joshua would later clarify to Insider that the night they met in 2018 was not a 'one-night stand' or a 'three-year one-night stand' like his then-wife joked but instead, it was "technically a three-night stand."
"It was sealed with a kiss that night and then we didn't leave each other's sides for, well, three years now," Joshua continued at the time.
In a July 2021 interview with Jimmy Fallon, Joshua dropped more details about the why behind getting married. He revealed that he didn't know he wanted to get married to Jodie until "the moment she asked me."
"She asked me on New Year's Eve. We were in Nicaragua. It was very beautiful, incredibly romantic, we were walking down the beach and she asked me to marry her."
He added, "I did not know [she would propose], but she was quite adamant and she was right. This is the best choice I ever made."
Joshua Jackson Reveals Jodie Turner-Smith Proposed To Him
Jodie received quite a bit of flack for proposing to Joshua because it goes against tradition and what society sees as acceptable for a woman to do to a man, and proposing isn't one of them. No matter how much time has passed, the viewpoints around who should do the proposing and who should be proposed to are still very traditional.
After being on the receiving end of such backlash, Joshua would later clarify to the media in a separate interview that it wasn't just Jodie's proposal to him that sealed the deal of them getting married, he proposed to her too. She might have initiated it, but Joshua followed through.
"I accidentally threw my wife under the bus because that story was told quickly and it didn't give the full context and holy Jesus, the internet is racist and misogynist," he explained to Refinery29 that same year. "We were in Nicaragua on a beautiful moonlit night, it could not possibly have been more romantic."
David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images
He continued, "And yes, my wife did propose to me and yes, I did say yes, but what I didn't say in that interview was there was a caveat, which is that I'm still old school enough that I said, 'This is a yes, but you have to give me the opportunity [to do it too].'"
"She has a biological father and a stepdad, who's the man who raised her. [I said], 'You have to give me the opportunity to ask both of those men for your hand in marriage.' And then, 'I would like the opportunity to re-propose to you and do it the old-fashioned way down on bended knee.' So, that's actually how the story ended up."
Joshua and Jodie would eventually marry in December 2019. Shortly thereafter, Jodie gave birth to the couple's first child, Janie, in 2020.
In a recent interview with Elle UK, Jodie shared the ways becoming a mother to Juno helped to heal her of her wounds from colorism she experienced in the past. "It's interesting because I had a lot of resistance to becoming a mother and, throughout my life, I always said if I were to have children, I wanted to have Black, Black babies so that I could affirm them as children with the love that I felt I needed to have been affirmed with by the outside world," Jodie shared with the outlet.
She continued, "Then I fell in love with my husband and we talked about having kids. I did have this mini pause, where I was like, 'She's going to be walking through the world not only having an experience that I did not have, but looking like people that, in a way, I'd always felt a little bit tormented by.' Now that I've got this little, tiny, light-skinned boss, I feel like it’s the universe teaching me lessons. I've been given a daughter who looks this way to heal my own conversations around colorism."
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Featured image by Amy Sussman/Getty Images