This is a hard editorial for me to write as it concerns something private and personal. It concerns a decision that my girlfriend and myself made a while ago. We decided to enter into a serious monogamous relationship. One that involved a lot of trust on each others’ part.

Let’s face it. People will care for each other and have sex relations at some point. The problem is that in today’s world there exists the possibility that by doing so they may kill both themselves and others. Chastity may work for some people but won’t for everyone. If someone is passing on the virus it can have far-reaching consequences. And it’s not as unlikely as it seems. Unprotected sex is unsafe unless wearing a condom. The only other alternative is that you are monogamous and your partner is too.

In order to further my relationship, I undertook a confidential AIDS test. Not because I thought that I had AIDS but because I was entering a long-term relationship with someone I care about. She also took the test. This is the third time that I have taken such a test. All have turned out to be negative for HIV. I thanked the Creator once again when I received my clean bill of health.

It is extremely hard to take a test even if you figure that you don’t have anything wrong with you. You have to go to a special CLSC. The one I went to is located beside Guy Metro (St. Mathieu exit).

First they counsel you on the dangers of contracting AIDS, how people can catch it, the various things you can do to extend your life because there is no cure for it, how to deal with it if you have HIV and have you fill out a confidential questionnaire on your sexual and lifestyle practices. Then you go and have a blood sample taken. You are given your number. Mine was 345 PLO. Without the card containing the number you do not receive an answer. This is totally confidential; no one even knows your name. Even if the counselor does turn up in the same area as you, he will pretend he doesn’t know you. This happened to me outside a theater.

The hardest part is waiting the month to get the results back. The last moments are spent wondering because no matter how low-risk you are there are chances. Blood carries it and people have contacted it that way. Can you imagine having to tell friends, parents, family and your loved one that you are a carrier?

It’s sort of scary and there is the only truth that comes through, survival.

How will you survive it all? The shame, the knowledge of your own death, others whom you have affected giving them a death warrant also and having to deal with that for the remainder of your life. It’s a slow, prolonged death. One in which being a part of creating a child is no longer possible.

Using a condom or getting tested is no longer a moral issue; it is a survival issue. It comes down to two things.

Confidential HIV testing and condoms should be made easily available for all Crees. If the Cree Nation falls behind the times then it may end up truly a dying nation. That is the reality of life today.