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Asia: At-Risk Teenagers Ignorant of HIV

August 18, 2005

Ignorance of how HIV is transmitted is rife among Indonesian teenagers, and their lack of knowledge is typical of many in the region, according to UNICEF HIV/AIDS East Asia and Pacific adviser Wing-Sie Cheng.

In a recent lecture at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia, Cheng said students in many East Asian countries believe they can protect themselves from HIV by avoiding mosquito bites and clothes-sharing and by using traditional herbal medicine.

Among Indonesian teens, 70-90 percent do not know how HIV is transmitted, she said. In rural China, 56 percent of students believed that exercise would prevent HIV; 26 percent thought a good diet would protect them from the virus. Half the Chinese youths did not know the importance of condom use, Cheng said.

"This is really the level of ignorance and misconception you are talking about. The prevention message simply isn't getting across." Cheng said Asia-Pacific governments need to make condoms freely available and target HIV prevention information toward young people.

The "silent tsunami" of HIV, which already affects 3 million people in the region, will spread to 12 million more by 2010 unless further action is taken, Cheng said.

Back to other news for August 18, 2005

Adapted from:
Australian Associated Press
08.17.2005; Jane Bunce

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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.
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