Wednesday, February 07, 2007

AIDS: Denial and Myths

Over the past few months, I’ve been meeting with and interviewing young people with HIV. Since the 80's I've been reporting on and writing about HIV/AIDS. I’m sad to hear that not a lot has changed.

Yes, condom use has increased among teens. More young people are waiting longer to have sex. But denial and myths persist.

These words from young people living with HIV can encourage young people to talk with their friends and parents to talk with their kids.

Denial: A 20-year-old man tells me why he thinks young people don’t take the risk of HIV seriously. “A lot of people think HIV is like the monster in the closet. If you put your blanket over your head it will go away. But it’s not. HIV is there and it affects everybody.”

“Not me” syndrome: A 15-year-old girl tells me about being infected by her second sex partner. “We all live in a world of it’s not going happen to me. I certainly did and look what happened?”

Ignorance: A 20-year-old woman told me, “Some kids think that if they get HIV they can take a pill. It won’t happen like that. Once you got HIV, you got HIV. [There’s] no cure. Not yet. You can take medication to control it. But it’s not going to go away.”

Fear: A 21-year-old woman told me that when she told a best friend over the telephone that she was HIV positive, her friend instantly hung up. They’ve not spoken since. “I’ve heard of computer viruses, but never one you could get over the telephone.”

As one young person told me. “Parents need to teach their kids about HIV so 1) they can protect themselves; and 2) so they won’t discriminate on others who have HIV and AIDS.

And there is this reminder from the 15-year-old girl. By the way, she died at age 22 from complications of AIDS. “I hope that young people today realize that they can do absolutely anything that they want to do, and they can be anything that they want to be, and that they have a future ahead of them. What they do now … will affect their tomorrow; will affect their lives years from now.”

In Our Own Words: Teens and AIDS
Raising Healthy Kids: Families Talk About Sexual Health
Words Can Work: When Talking With Kids About Sexual Health

Related Issues and Answers columns
HIV: Getting tested
Communication: Connect with kids
Sexual health: Talking with kids
Sexual health: Parents as educators

Related columns for young people


Post a Comment

<< Home