Talking With Your Children About HIV: HIV Awareness for Children
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HIV is a tough subject for parents, guardians, and caregivers to discuss with their children. However it is important that all families have this discussion. There are many reasons you may want to discuss HIV and AIDS with your children: you or a family member is living with HIV (HIV+), your child is HIV+, or you simply want to help your child understand HIV so that he or she does not become infected.
Around the world, young people ages 15 to 24 accounted for two of every five new HIV infections in 2011. An estimated 1.6 billion adolescents and young people -- the largest group ever -- are currently living with HIV. Young women aged 15 to 24 are infected at twice the rate as young men the same age.
In the US, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that young people ages 13 to 29 account for 39 percent of all new HIV infections in the U.S. more than any other age group. In 2009, 46 percent of high school students in the United States reported having had sexual intercourse. Of these, over a third said they did not use a condom during their last sexual encounter and only about one in five has ever been tested for HIV despite recommendations for routine testing. These alarming statistics remind parents that they cannot afford to avoid talking with their children about HIV. For more information, see our info sheet on HIV Risk and Teens.
Children and teenagers find out about HIV from all sorts of places: TV, radio, friends, newspapers, magazines, and the Internet. Talking with your children about HIV is an opportunity to provide them with facts and correct any myths or or incorrect information they may have picked up outside the home. It is also a chance to develop an open and honest relationship with your children
Many parents are uncomfortable talking to their children about HIV because they do not have the correct information themselves. Before you talk to your children about HIV, it is important for you to know the facts.
What is HIV?
What is AIDS?
What is the difference between HIV and AIDS?
For more facts, see our info sheet: What is HIV?
How is HIV spread?
HIV is spread through the following body fluids:
HIV is not spread through these body fluids:
The most common ways HIV is passed from one person to another are:
How can HIV be prevented?
One of the most important messages you can share with your children is that HIV can be prevented. HIV cannot be transmitted except when certain body fluids are exchanged. Teach your children that they can greatly reduce the risk of transmission by:
It is also important to tell children that HIV is not transmitted by casual contact such as:
For more information, see our info sheet: HIV Transmission.
This article was provided by The Well Project. Visit The Well Project's Web site to learn more about their resources and initiatives for women living with HIV. The Well Project shares its content with TheBody.com to ensure all people have access to the highest quality treatment information available. The Well Project receives no advertising revenue from TheBody.com or the advertisers on this site. No advertiser on this site has any editorial input into The Well Project's content.
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