Saturday, July 08, 2006

All I Ever Did Was Love A Man

"All I Ever Did Was Love A Man" was the name of the book that was chosen as the July selection for one of my book clubs. I read it in less than three hours over the Fourth of July weekend. The debut novel by Dr. Sharon Denise Allison-Ottey is part-fiction, part self-help novel that educates readers on the reality of AIDS.

The main character, Sabrena, had a challenging search for love until a doctors' visit changed her life completely. After learning she contracted AIDS, Sabrena starts the painful process of informing her love ones and confronting the man she suspects passed the virus to her. Real-life lessons of true love, courage and friendship inspire Sabrena's acceptance of her fate.

The book is filled with enlightening information about AIDS including a lot of misconceptions. With an alarming number of AIDS cases stemming from the African-American and Latino communities, this novel is a must-read for those uneducated about this epidemic. While the author contends the character of "Sabrena" is loosely based on a former patient, she saw many "Sabrena's" live and triumph with AIDS.

I was moved by the article but was so busy with holiday activities that Sabrena's plight quickly left my mind.

The very next day I read a magazine article about Chanya, a mother in her 30s trying to raise four children. She does not fit the typical profile of a person living with AIDS. She is not a man who has sex with men; she is not a prostitute; she does not use IV drugs. She has engaged in no behavior at all that is high risk for AIDS, except for one - she got married. Her husband, tragically, did engage in high-risk behavior: he had unprotected sex outside his marriage. After acquiring HIV, he passed it on to Chanya. Now her greatest fear is that her children will be orphans.

So I googled the phrase, "married women living with AIDS" and was floored by the amount of links popped up. There were pages and pages of websites filled with stories of women who are now living with a life threatening illness when all they did was marry a man and expect him to remain faithful. Talk about being blindsided. As I read on, I became even more dismayed to see the number of single women who are also contracting HIV/AIDS from boyfriends, one night stands, booty calls, etc. When asked why they didn't protect themselves, the responses varied from "he didn't look like he had AIDS" to "I never thought this could happen to me" but the overwhelming response was "because I loved him."

And it made me think. I've been in love before - with two men in my lifetime and I can remember doing some pretty stupid things but I've never not used protection no matter how crazy about the person I was. That is until I got married.

But things have obviously changed and the stakes are much higher. Lives are on the line now. In fact, your life could be in jeopardy so your feelings for another person are no longer a cute or valid reason not to request that your intimate partner not "cover up". And if they don't want to, then you should probably rethink the relationship.

It's that simple.


  1. Sounds really good and I heard some great reviews on this book. Its scary when you're married, because your life is now co-dependent on the man you love. Still we all take a chance. I'm currently reading this book as well.

  2. Anonymous7:07 AM

    It's scary.I took chances during my younger days. I never believed cathcing a disease could happen to me. I was one of the lucky ones. Unfortunately you really never really know whatsomeone is capable of or what they may be doing behind your back. Be safe and if you're married pray your spouse is faithful and if not and least careful.

  3. I've heard great things about this book & I'm putting it on my to-purchase-later list. This whole AIDS thing is scary - from people having unprotected sex, to saying "he/she didn't look like they had AIDS", to the issue of being married to someone who engages in at-risk behavior. I pray that we stem the tide...soon.

  4. Anonymous1:02 PM

    I read this book in less than a day and it changed my life. The book has all the pieces-- a great love story, passion, pain and a call to look in the mirror. I have heard so many good things about the book-- I am glad that I read it and now my book club is reading it.