A few days ago entertainment news broke that in 2012, singer/songwriter Usher, allegedly settled a lawsuit that claimed he failed to disclose he had herpes before engaging in unprotected sex with an unnamed woman. Reports initially from RadarOnline and then TMZ claim to have seen documents that prove the information. Snopes, known as a website to fact check and dispell any internet hoaxes, says they have not been able to confirm if this is a fact.
Since this story broke, new reports have surfaced claiming that other women have been coming forward with similar claims. One in particular is said to have sued him for $10 million and now upped her lawsuit to $20 million after tests confirmed she has in fact contracted the virus.
Now I am not usually one to write about celebrity gossip stories, but I felt compelled to write about this one because this is a teaching moment as to why people need to be more diligent in protecting themselves before engaging in sexual activity. At this point I don’t care if this is a true story or a rumour. I do care that it’s started an important conversation about the reality that exists when it comes to dating and relationships.
When Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson announced his HIV status to the world in November 1991, everyone was shocked and people swore they would practice safe sex. We saw actor Charlie Sheen announce his status to the world and some were equally shocked. We know that the continued spread of STD’s means many people are still not protecting themselves.
Over the years I’ve also read stories about people being sued for purposely infecting people by choosing not to disclose they have pre-existing conditions. Because Usher is a celebrity, the story is making headlines, but the reality is, what allegedly happened to this woman, is happening every day with the average person.
How many times have you been in a relationship and once you got comfortable stopped protecting yourself? You stopped using protection even though you didn’t know that person’s status. How many times have you engaged in some form of sexual intimacy and never even asked your partner to get tested? People take these risks often and some end up suffering life-changing consequences. Instead of being judgemental and either criticizing the woman suing Usher or engaging in negative backlash towards him, why not use this as your chance to change your behaviour or have constructive dialogue about the issue?
The important things you should learn from the Usher story.
- Ask your potential partner to get tested for all possible STD’s (STI’s). If he or she refuses then you should refuse to engage in any potentially dangerous activity.
- Get yourself tested regularly. Not only to know your status but to also protect those you plan to engage in sexual activity with.
- If you are aware of any conditions you must tell your partner or potential partner before getting into any sexual activity.
- Practice abstinence. It’s the only way to truly protect yourself 100%.
What will you do?