March 14, 2011
On Thursday, National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, representatives from the South Mississippi AIDS Task Force visited students at Gulfport High to talk about preventing the disease. All too often, teens' knowledge of sex and STDs comes from other teens, said SMATF's Trinette Crump.
"I enjoy coming to the high school because I'm able to reach girls from age 14, 15, up to the age of 18," Crump said. "You're able to give out information to the teens that they can go home and discuss with their parents [and] with their other peers so they can become more educated and more involved."
"When the girls visit the table, we talk to them about abstinence. Abstinence is the only for-sure way to stay HIV-negative," Crump explained. "The other thing we talk to them about is prevention. How to prevent themselves from being HIV-positive, also from contracting an STD."
Crump said it is sometimes easier for teens to talk with an adult other than a parent. "They're ashamed or don't know how to start the conversation with their parents," she noted. She encourages students to ask questions about anything that prompts their curiosity.
SMATF data show 204 people ages 13-24 in the six southern-most counties are HIV-positive.