Greetings Emolit Family, Are you wholeheartedly invested in maintaining your own well-being, mind, body, and soul? And, when it comes to the choices you make in relationships, do they reflect healthy and genuine self-love? Well, if that is the case and you're like me, you may feel it's time for everyone to start having more honest and open dialogues about what it truly means to be sexually responsible and what holding accountability to your partner regarding sexual health really looks like. I think we could all take a lesson away from Usher's situation in that, even if you're extremely wealthy, if you're in the best physical shape of your life, or if you're incredibly attractive, you're not some kind of superhuman being that is exempt from catching an STD--this "It'll never happen to me, because that's just something self-respect-lacking, desperate and unattractive, unfaithful, promiscuous, or nasty people get" mentality. And, by the way, I really wish Usher would have taken a different route other than trying to keep his condition under wraps. He could have turned his situation into a positive one and educated his fans, who so adamantly adore him, on this very important issue. And, we need to stop thinking that committing to monogamous relationships, whether that's as boyfriend/girlfriend or marriage, is the sole solution towards addressing the STD epidemic in the U.S. Yes, being in a monogamous relationship is much safer health-wise, physically and emotionally, than being with multiple partners, and those are the types of healthy relationships I seek to promote. However, the people who are in monogamous relationships feel that they are exempt from ever catching STDs, themselves, and even look down on those who have been the victims of them, as if they, themselves, are perfect and have never fallen short of the glory of The Maker. When in fact, in the cases of some STDs, the symptoms don't show up in the carrier for months, which means your partner whom you're having sex with, whether you both are boyfriend/girlfriend or married, could not know they have anything, themselves, and could turn around and give it to you. Even if you're wearing protection when having sex with your lover there are still STDs you can contract, which, in some cases, have the potential to become deadly, no matter how much you love your partner or how much they love you. So, if you are in a committed relationship, you need to get off your high horse in thinking it's impossible to become infected with an STI or to infect your partner with something you may not know you have. Also, it's time to stop taking your partner's word for it when they tell you they've been tested or that they just know they don't have anything and for you to stop lounging in the lap of an unmerited sense of security just because you aren't seeing any symptoms of an STI on you and/or your partner. The reason that the STD epidemic in the U.S. is at unprecedentedly epic proportions, with there being specific concentrations in the black community, is because we live in an over-sexualized society where it's, contradictorily, taboo to have healthy and respectful open discussions centered around the different areas of sexual engagement. For instance, there is a great number of those who are totally against a woman breastfeeding in public, but no one raises a funk about a giant poster in the mall of a woman in a bra and panties advertising for lingerie or for a perfume. Society showcases sex to sell just about anything, and we'll hit the movies with our lovers to watch movies explicitly and excessively displaying sexual imagery (e.g., Fast & Furious) but heaven forbid we actually have an open dialogue with our partner about how knowledgeable they are in healthy and responsible sex practices and if they've been tested for EVERY STD since the last time they were sexually active--and, it DOES NOT matter if who they were with, before you, used protection. I believe that if you're going to be sexually active with anyone, you need to see printed test results of their most recent STD panel, in addition to them giving you a detailed account of what they know about being sexually responsible and the importance of disclosing that information to you, and I believe that them inquiring the same information from you is a telltale sign of how seriously they take sexual engagement. If you are not willing to ask this of your partner, then, can you say you love yourself and that you have your long-term best interest in mind? If they aren't willing to openly and honestly reveal this information, then, they DO NOT care about your well-being. We need to stop making excuses for not being sexually responsible: "I was really really drunk, so that's why I did it without asking." "That booty was sitting so right in those short that I just couldn't help myself." "That six pack and that smile just made all my self-control go out the window." "I was really lonely, and he was there for me." "I didn't wanna ruin the mood by asking him." "He/she is not the type of person to catch something. I trust them." When we're talking about something that could potentially affect you for the rest of your life, then, you owe it to yourself to investigate and to inquire your partner about it, and they owe it to you to be forthcoming about any pertinent information--and, that goes for whether you're in a committed relationship or not. And, by the way, who says being open about these types of things has to be uncomfortable or weird? It could be something that could bring you and your wife or husband closer together. You could both go get tested together and turn it into an experience that bonds you both. And, I don't know about you, but the sex is way hotter when my partner and I are comfortable because we're confident in each other that we're both being sexually accountable.