The need to be loved is a strong desire. The longing to be wanted can be just as strong. It is the stuff that songs, books and movies are made of.
In fact, the drive can become so strong and so dangerous it is considered an addiction. While controversy among sex therapists exists regarding the existence of sexual addiction, many sex therapists say it is a reality and is often born out of childhood trauma or emotional neglect related to love and or sex. Many groups and therapeutic practices, such as Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous, a twelve-step group, were founded for just that purpose.
"We in S.L.A.A. believe that sex and love addiction is a progressive illness which cannot be cured; but which, like many illnesses, can be arrested. It may take several forms--including, but not limited to a compulsive need for sex, extreme dependency on one or many people, or a chronic preoccupation with romance, intrigue, or fantasy. An obsessive compulsive pattern, either sexual or emotional, or both, exists in which relationships or sexual activities have become increasingly destructive to career, family and sense of self-respect. Sex addiction and love addiction, if left unchecked, always gets worse," reads a statement on their web site, www.slaafws.org.
A strong sex drive should not be confused with sexual addiction. Sex addiction is characterized by persons using sex to get a "high," and then finding themselves needing ever-greater or more powerful "doses." These addictions typically lead to greater risk-taking behavior over time and also have greater negative impact on the lives of those suffering with the disease. According to sexhelp.com, 72 percent of sex addicts experience suicidal thoughts, 70 percent have relationship difficulties and 68 percent have suffered exposure to sexually transmitted diseases.
Last year, 26-year-old R&B singing sensation Ne-Yo, confessed to VIBE senior editor Laura Checkoway that he had a "slight addiction" to sex. He stated that at one time, "I became a complete whore. I might possibly have had sex with every girl in my 11th grade class...it went from like, nothing to like, three and four a day." He stated that he managed to get some control over his addiction by "helping himself" instead of engaging in sex with groupies.
But Ne-Yo is not alone and this addiction, which may well be a factor in the rise of HIV/AIDS among African- American men in Dallas and throughout the United States. According to The Good Shepherd Restoration Ministries, "For some Black men, a very disturbing phenomenon, men who have sex with men--MSM--Brothers on the 'down low', is increasingly becoming the primary means of transmitting HIV to heterosexual, Black women and men. Untreated sexual addiction and/or experimental homosexual activity in prisons have led some heterosexual or 'straight,' Black men to engage in even more riskier sexual behavior such as this.
'MSM' is having grave consequences to the health and families of these men." Sources from the Texas Department of Health and Human Services, indicate that approximately one out of every 47 Black men in Dallas is living with HIV. While drug use does account for a narrow percentage of the infections, approximately 80 percent of all infections occurred during sexual activity.
According to the Centers for Disease control, nationally, MSM accounted for more than 71 percent of all HIV infections among men in 2005, however only 5 percent to 7 percent of men identified themselves as MSM. Denial, experts in the field of HIV/AIDS say, is the driving force behind the spread of HIV/AIDS. Denial also plays a big part in the failure to respond appropriately to any type of addiction.
Apathy is touted as being another contributing factor to the spread. In most of the cases related to sex, contracting and spreading the disease could have been prevented had the participants simply chosen to use a condom, to only indulge with men or women with whom they were in a monogamous relationship and to gotten tested. These steps are commonly recommended by experts in the prevention of the spread of all sexually transmitted diseases.
Failure to take the appropriate precautions despite this available information is a form of risk taking behavior commonly associated with sexual addictions. Among men who have sex with men, sexual compulsivity has been associated with higher frequencies of sexual behaviors that may increase risk for transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.
These factors indicate a type of sexual addiction, which may be an underlying factor in the spread of HIV among Blacks, who are disproportionately affected by the disease. As of May 2008, there were 13,441 Dallas County residents living with HIV/AIDS. Of those, 5,775 were living with HIV and approximately 7,666 were living with AIDS, according to the Dallas County Health Department. MSM made up 62 percent of that number. Nationally, 72 African Americans are infected with HIV every day. Last year 334 African Americans in Dallas County were newly diagnosed with HIV, and 159 were newly diagnosed with AIDS. "African Americans make up approximately 13 percent of the population of the United States, yet almost half of the total AIDS cases reported in this country are among members of the Black community," said Zachary Thompson, DCHHS Director.
"What Dallas County is experiencing is no different than what is being seen in every major urban area across the nation. We must focus not on the raw data and numbers, but on the behaviors that lead to the numbers. Risky behaviors, such as sexual addiction, certainly contribute to the increase in the numbers of persons infected with Sexually Transmitted Diseases, including HIV and AIDs.
Thompson concludes, "Dallas County Health and Human Services, along with health departments across the nation, must develop and implement new, creative strategies to get the message out to exercise good judgment when engaging in any sexual activity. The best advice we can offer is to get educated, get tested, and get treated in order to stop HIV/AIDS from continuing to devastate our communities."