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Kids Not Learning About HIV Prevention

Kids Not Learning About HIV Prevention

While HIV and AIDS have been overshadowed by other social and health issues in recent years, the global pandemic is far from over– and kids still need to learn about the dangers of HIV and effective prevention methods. New research indicates that we may be failing our kids in that aspect of their education, and that more attention needs to be paid to HIV prevention education in schools.

According to the 2011 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), “the percentage of U.S. high school students who had learned about HIV/AIDS in school dropped from 91.5 percent in 1997 to 84 percent in 2011″ (Edge).

The consequences of less emphasis on HIV/AIDS education can be seen in the limited condom use practice by high school students (just 60 percent reported using a condom in their last sexual encounter), and in the rate of young adults aged 15 to 24 contracting HIV (more than 8,000 in 2009).

HIV awareness has definitely taken a backseat to other social issues, such as gay rights, and the evidence can be found in the  media and amongst celebrities. The It Gets Better video campaign that reaches out to gay and lesbian kids has been widely supported by varying organizations and celebrities, but few famous people have publicly come out as being HIV-positive since Magic Johnson did so in 1991. Much of the reason for this silence probably has to do with the fact that HIV is still stigmatized.

Getting beyond the HIV stigma

The first step to properly educating kids about HIV is to have honest, open discussions about it. Talking about HIV and AIDS just like any other disease will do a lot to get rid of associated stigma. Other important aspects of education include information on how HIV is contracted, how to prevent getting HIV, and what to do if you suspect that you are HIV positive.

Despite science’s best efforts, HIV can still lead to AIDS, a life-threatening disease. Denying kids information about HIV and AIDS is more than simply doing them a disservice–it could be potentially fatal. The number of kids still contracting HIV proves that our job isn’t over when it comes to sexual health education, and that schools and parents need to step up their game to make sure students are receiving the information they need.

Related Stories:

Catholic Hospital Denies Gay Man HIV Medication

Rep. Barbara Lee Participates in National HIV Testing Day

Teen Birthrates Drop Thanks to Smart Sex Ed


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38 comments

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5:05PM PDT on Jul 29, 2012

Well, here's a throw back to the 70's with the hype "as long as no one gets hurt." Everyone gets hurt! It happened to me and numerous people I know. We had sex ed, and even with that the STI rate has soared.
Something to consider-the STI rate for teens was 1 in 50, and now it's 1 in 4, a 1,250% increase. Not good. We can't be teaching something that clearly has been a failure. I have witnessed it since I was a teen.

5:52PM PDT on Jul 11, 2012

The lack of public policy to prevent HIV/AIDS is as bad as Governor Rick Scotts lack of public policy for the T.B. outbreak in his state. See a pattern here?

4:13AM PDT on Jul 11, 2012

A class in RESPECT AND RESPONSIBILITY should be taught from Grade one to graduation. Children should be taught that anything is permissible as long as it does not hurt themselves or anyone else. If children are taught at a very early age that every child has their own strengths and weaknesses and that they should use their strengths to help others not to tease or bully them.
It should not matter if a child comes from a FAMILY of a mother and father, 2 mothers or 2 fathers or a single mother or father as long as they are LOVED.
Sex Education should be taught on LGBT, Contraceptives, Masturbation, Pregnancy and all forms of sex. Let us face it whether we like it or not children are curious and are having sex earlier. Children should be taught the JOYS and the CONSEQUENCES of having sex ( Pregnancy, STD, AIDS and others.) I believe this is a solution. Stopping the damage before it starts so that Bullying, Sexual Assault, and many others will be greatly diminished if not eradicated. It is my belief that when children graduate with these principles where they are taught RESPECT for themselves and others and to take RESPONSIBILITY for their actions. If children grow up with these values, I believe business and government would benefit greatly. Within a few generations this world would be a much better place to live in.

8:00PM PDT on Jul 10, 2012

Sex ed and all STDs should be taught together. Kids need to know early enough about these dangers so they can make wise decisions later on and at least be able to properly choose what they're doing.

7:06PM PDT on Jul 10, 2012

Everyone needs to learn all there is to know about HIV/AIDS....

8:00PM PDT on Jul 9, 2012

@ Charlene R.. “Whether you agree with homosexuality or not, is not the issue”. Of course it isn’t. Aids affects entire families of heterosexual families with children, especially in Africa where irresponsible males stick with the “skin on skin’ approach. In the US, blacks also have the highest rate of Aids infection. Thanks for your voice out of the past.



4:51PM PDT on Jul 9, 2012

Maryam P - The statistics give what you say the lie (no - I'm NOT saying you lie; I'm saying the the statistics tell a different story). Kids and young adults do NOT protect themselves better than we baby-boomers do.

That's at least partially the point of the article.

4:35PM PDT on Jul 9, 2012

My immediate response was..."well they certainly aren't taught sex ed so how the hell are they going to teach HIV prevention???"!
And it's still my response.

3:19PM PDT on Jul 9, 2012

People are afraid of encouraging kids to do something they'll probably do without encouragement,anyway.Teaching is not permission.

3:00PM PDT on Jul 9, 2012

The necessity for sexual education.

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Kristina Chew Kristina Chew teaches and writes about ancient Greek and Latin and is Online Advocacy and Marketing... more
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