I was an HIV/AIDS educator for a time. I remember the phrase “it ain’t love without a glove” running around. It was a reference to condom use. Our trainers told us that if person A had unprotected sex with person B it would be like person A having sex with everyone person B ever had sex with! Unprotected sex was not just sex with someone but with someone’s entire sexual history.
It was a graphic depiction of the nature of disease transmission.
COVID-19 is of course quite a bit different than HIV. But what’s being asked of us is the same. With HIV education we asked young people to protect themselves but we also made it clear they needed to protect others! Taking precautions, communicating honestly, and abstaining from certain behaviors takes effort. But if you care about yourself and the other people in your life you will put forth the effort.
If we want to reduce the threat of this virus we have to stop interacting with people. It is the best and most effective thing we can do.
This is hard. We need each other. We need close contact with friends and family. We need a healthy society that we can work and play in. We need goods and services. But we have to delay gratification. We have to inhibit our natural spontaneity. We have to isolate ourselves, as best we can.
We used to tell our students that you had to assume your partner had a sexually transmitted disease, that way you’d certainly protect yourself. And we reminded them that they could be carrying a disease and unwittingly infect someone if they were unprotected. They didn’t want to be that person, did they?
If you assume you are infected with COVID-19 you will take precautions not to spread the virus, like proper social distancing and self-isolation. This protects other people. And guess what? It protects you, to.
Isolation and social distancing are acts of respect. You are saying to your neighbors “I want you to be safe.” And at the same time you are looking out for your own health and well-being. Who can argue with that?
“It ain’t love without a glove.”