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U.S. News

Washington, D.C.: Youth Organizations Struggle to Make Teenagers Aware of the Risks of HIV

October 28, 2011

An earlier generation's sense of urgency for eradicating HIV has largely been lost on youths ages 16-24 who grew up in a world with HIV, some experts and advocates say. Educating members of "Generation Y" about HIV means reaching out to these Millennials in ways that resonate with them, several experts said.

"Rates are not decreasing and, in some groups, they're going up," said Tina Hoff, director of health communication at Kaiser Family Foundation. KFF joined MTV in 2008 to launch "Get Yourself Tested," a robust media campaign to familiarize teens with HIV testing and encourage discussion among youths. Aggressive media campaigns are becoming the norm.

"Media alone and public information alone isn't going to solve this crisis by itself, but it's an important piece of the puzzle," Hoff said. "Most young people will tell you their most common sources of information on these issues are the media and their friends."

Meeting young people on the streets is important, said Raul Posas, social marketing manager at District of Columbia-based Metro TeenAIDS, a youth advocacy organization, who handles all MTA outreach and directly works on testing efforts.

"The number-one barrier is stigma," Posas said. "They don't want to be judged." With testing, young people prize discretion above all else, he said. MTA has casual drop-in testing centers where youths "can hang out, play video games ... places that are little more discreet and don't always look like a clinic," he said.

MTA and D.C.-based Whitman-Walker Clinic also field mobile testing units. MTA regularly hosts basketball competitions and back-to-school fashion shows with free testing, and WWC places testing units directly outside nightclubs popular with straight and LGBT individuals.

Back to other news for October 2011

Adapted from:
Kansas City Star
10.27.2011; Lauren Redding, McClatchy-Tribune News

This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
See Also
Quiz: Are You at Risk for HIV?
10 Common Fears About HIV Transmission
More Viewpoints on HIV Prevention for Young People

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