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OraSure Campaign Promotes Sexual Health

What percentage of Black women account for all estimated new HIV infections among women?

The answer is 64 percent, but Black women only make up 13 percent of the female population. Astounding, right?

OraSure, the creators of the OraQuick In-Home HIV Test, thought so, too. That’s why the company launched the “Life As We Know It” campaign, a nationwide initiative to encourage conversation about sexual health and the importance of learning your status.

But this isn’t the ordinary talk that just gives a rundown of the names and definitions of all sexually transmitted diseases. It’s an open and honest dialogue about how to have that crucial conversation with your partner, but most importantly how to value your worth and love yourself.

With the help of some influential African American women, the campaign is holding panels across the country to engage audiences in discussion on topics about related to love, sex, relationships and sexual health.

“It’s an extension of the conversation I’ve already been having,” says Demetria L. Lucas, one of the panelists and the author of  A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life and blog of the same title. “There’s a stigma about women knowing too much about sex. They say ‘Oh she’s promiscuous.’ But that’s not true.”

In fact, the campaign urges all African American women to be well versed about their own sexual health and the sexual heath of their partner.

“It’s about women getting to know themselves, what they’ll stand for and what they wont stand for,” says Jacque Reid, another panelist and veteran journalist currently co-hosting New York Live.

From purchasing condoms to posting your test results on your refrigerator, like Lucas does, the women aren’t leaving anything out of the conversation.

In addition to the heart-to-hearts, the campaign is taking clips from the tour to create a dynamic and timely web series hosted by Lucas, Reid and sex expert Dr. Rachael Ross. Structured like a talk show that appears on the campaign’s website and Essence.com, it entertains and informs today’s modern African American woman with candid, real chitchat.

“I just get so tired of women being so passive when it comes to their own health,” says Reid. “We’ve been the backbone of so many families. It’s time for us to step up.”

“Life As We Know It” kicked off in Atlanta at the Blogalicious conference earlier this month and will head to other national events and celebrations, like the Circle of Sisters Expo, 2013 Spelman College and Morehouse College Homecoming and World AIDS Day.

“Sex is fun,” says Lucas. “Putting yourself at risk isn’t.”