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Teens Voice Their Concerns About HIV/AIDS

December 1, 2000

The National Survey of Teens on HIV/AIDS, a new report released by the Kaiser Family Foundation, documents teen perspectives about the impact of the epidemic on young people as well as their own personal concerns about becoming infected.

Survey data were collected from a nationally representative sample of 1,512 teenagers ages 12 to 17 during June, July, and August 2000 Questions on personal sexual experience were only asked of respondents between the ages of 15 to 17.


Results

Sexual Behavior

  • 88% of teens ages 15 to 17 reported that they had ever been kissed.

  • 77% of teens ages 15 to 17 reported that they had ever been French kissed.

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  • 56% of teens ages 15 to 17 reported having been with a partner while touching or fondling one another in a sexual way.

  • 32% of teens ages 15 to 17 reported ever having had sexual intercourse. 65% of these teens (72% male and 57% female) reported using condoms all of the time.


Teens Concerns

  • A large majority of teens (81%) felt that HIV/AIDS is a "very" or "somewhat" serious problem for people their age.

  • 28% of White teens, 60% of African-American teens, and 44% of Latino teens reported being very concerned about becoming infected with HIV.


HIV/AIDS Knowledge

  • 91% of teens agreed with the statement "having sexual intercourse without a condom increases a person's risk of becoming infected with HIV," 6% thought this statement was false, and 3% "don't know."

  • 79% of teens agreed with the statement "there is no cure for AIDS," 14% thought this statement was false, and 7% "don't know."

  • 69% of teens agreed with the statement "you can become infected with HIV by having unprotected oral sex," 18% though this statement was false, and 12% "don't know."

  • 41% of teens agreed with the statement "having another sexually transmitted disease like gonorrhea or herpes increases a person's risk of becoming infected with HIV," 35% thought this statement was false, and 23% "don't know."


Sources of Information

  • 78% of teens reported learning "a lot" or "some" information about HIV/AIDS from their teachers, school nurses, or classes at school.

  • 58% of teens reported learning "a lot" or "some" information about HIV/AIDS from their parents. This response was higher among African-Americans (71%) and Latinos (64%) as compared to Whites (56%).

  • 51% of teens reported learning "a lot" or "some" information about HIV/AIDS from books and pamphlets. This response was higher among African-Americans (63%) and Latinos (56%) as compared to Whites (49%).

  • 44% of teens reported learning "a lot" or "some" information about HIV/AIDS from a doctor or health care provider. This response was higher among African-Americans (62%) and Latinos (52%) as compared to Whites (40%).


What Teens Want

  • 57% of teens are interested in getting more information about how to protect themselves from becoming infected with HIV. This response was higher among African-Americans (73%) and Latinos (68%) as compared to Whites (53%).

  • 55% of teens are interested in knowing where to get tested for HIV. This response was higher among African-Americans (67%) and Latinos (66%) as compared to Whites (53%).

  • 48% of teens are interested in knowing what AIDS is and how it is spread.

  • 46% of teens want to know how to talk to their partners about HIV/AIDS. This response was higher among African-Americans (60%) and Latinos (51%) as compared to Whites (37%).

  • 40% of teens want to know how to talk to their parents about HIV/AIDS.

  • 36% of teens want to know more about the proper way to use condoms. This response was higher among African-Americans (44%) and Latinos (43%) as compared to Whites (35%).


HIV Testing

  • 30% of teens would "know for sure" where to go to get tested for HIV, 43% had "some idea," and 26% had "no idea." Sexually active teens were more likely to know where to get tested; 48% would "know for sure" where to go to get tested, 35% had "some idea," and 17% had "no idea."

  • Fewer than one-third of teens (27%) who reported being sexually active have been tested for HIV, although an additional 16% of sexually active teens say they have considered getting tested.

  • Nearly a quarter of teens (24%) who reported being tested may have been mistaken; they were under the impression that their HIV test was part of a routine exam.

  • 50% of those who have been tested reported going to a general health clinic while a third (31%) received the test at a private doctor's office.

  • 40% of those sexually active teens who have not been tested said that they do not think they have done anything that would put them at risk for HIV.

  • 65% of teens said that getting tested where "no one knows me" is important.

The findings suggest that teens are very concerned about the impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic on the country and are particularly concerned about the risk of infection for people their age and for themselves. The authors note that African-American and Latino teens are even more likely to say they are concerned about becoming infected.

The survey also shows that while teens know basic information about HIV, both those who are sexually active and those who are not feel they need more information. In addition, few teens have been tested for HIV and many do not know where to get tested.

For more information:

The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, 2400 Sand Hill Road, Menlo Park, CA 94025; Phone: 650/854-9400; Fax: 650/854-4800; Web site: http://www.kff.org



  
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This article was provided by Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States. It is a part of the publication SHOP Talk: School Health Opportunities and Progress Bulletin.
 
See Also
More Statistics on Young People and HIV/AIDS in the U.S.

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