Get it right, get tested

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 14, 2008

A good friend of mine has a saying he always likes to throw around: “Had it not been for that horse, I would have gone to college.”

I’m not entirely sure what that means, but I’ve heard a few theories. The most literal one is that the saying comes from out-of-luck gamblers who bet on the wrong ponies.

Of course there’s a more figurative meaning that someone put in my ear. I’m still recovering from the reaction, so I won’t pass it one along.

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I think what it all boils down to is personal accountability.

So then I got to thinking …

It has occurred to me that the average person, without even realizing it, is more than willing to gamble on the one thing he can’t recover — his own life.

Think about it. There’s not one person reading this that doesn’t know someone who doesn’t do one or more of the following life-threatening things — gamble, smoke, drink heavily, overeat, drive recklessly, marry someone with crazy in-laws, skydive, bungee jump or pick fights with people that have more tattoos than teeth.

It’s a gauntlet this thing called life, it really is.

And recently I have been reminded of something people fail to do that could kill far less quickly but far more painfully — get tested for HIV.

The first problem is people don’t realize what the difference is between HIV and AIDS.

The first — Human Immunodeficiency Virus — is just that, a virus. It means something like a parasite has entered your body and has begun the process of killing you. It then turns into the latter.

AIDS — Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome — doesn’t actually kill you. What it does is destroy your immune system. That means a common cold 10 years ago, roughly the time it takes for the disease to manifest, is now as dangerous as a point-blank shotgun blast to the chest.

It’s a nasty picture, and one that countless people are unaware of because they’re too afraid or too ignorant to get tested.

That horse. That stinking horse.