Young People Failing to Heed Prevention Efforts That Don't Deal With Sex
July 15, 2004
AIDS campaigns aimed at teens and young adults that do not adequately deal with sexuality are not working, youth delegates and officials told the 15th International AIDS Conference in Bangkok. The youth delegates also said health care workers do not reach out enough to young people, causing many to be reluctant to take an HIV test.Adapted from:
A third of the estimated 38 million people living with HIV/AIDS worldwide are ages 15-24, the majority of them in sub-Saharan Africa. But the message that the virus increasingly affects young people is getting lost, said the delegates. Tasneen Khan, a 17-year-old South African, said that nurses had gone to her school to talk about HIV/AIDS but did not say how the virus is transmitted or how to avoid it. The nurses simply told the students "there is this disease called AIDS and that you can die from it," said Khan.
A UNICEF report issued earlier this week noted that frank talk about sex and its role in HIV transmission is still missing from youth prevention efforts as AIDS enters its third decade. "There are many sexually active young people out there. And it's important that where young people are having sex that they have access to knowledge about AIDS and how to protect themselves," said Peter McDermott, director of HIV/AIDS programs at UNICEF.
The delegates said another contributing factor in the rise of HIV infections among young people is the absence of "youth-friendly services" -- affordable and confidential health care. Young people are often patronized or dismissed by medical professionals, and that attitude prevents young people from seeking testing and treatment, the youth delegates noted. "The youth are the most vulnerable. And yet we do not have the services to turn to," said Henry Lyumboya, a 24-year-old from Uganda who is HIV-positive.
07.15.04; Jennifer Chen
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.