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Opinion & Commentary

Tennessee: Youths Have Misconceptions on HIV/AIDS

May 4, 2011

"Recent news of increases in HIV infection in people ages 30 or younger should be an alarming wake-up call here in Nashville. ...

"Most did not witness the initial wave of the AIDS epidemic, which devastated individuals and families. Many gay and bisexual adolescents and young adults view HIV infection as inevitable, but manageable. Often, I've heard the comment, 'It's OK if I get HIV; the drugs will keep me healthy.' ...

"Over the past 16 years, I've spoken with many classes of high school and university students. It is clear to me that too often their awareness of and knowledge about healthy sexuality is too little, too late. Parents have a responsibility to teach their values to children and youths, but it's especially critical that adolescents and young adults have access to accurate information and support to make informed decisions about their sexual health. ...

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"Young people should learn about sexuality in the context of healthy and safe relationships of all types. Comprehensive curricula that put HIV prevention in context can help. Parents have the major responsibility here, but schools and faith communities play an important role in ensuring our young people know how to be safe and healthy. ...

"'Prevention messages' are hard to hear if you are bullied, devalued, and defeated at the start. To effectively address HIV for young people, we need to address issues of racism, homophobia, and stigma head-on. Resources for families with gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered children should be easily and readily accessible. ...

"Most of all, there must be a dialogue between young and old, and across different cultures. We must come together as a community, with new faces, voices, ideas, and renewed determination to defeat HIV and its continued attack on Nashville's next generation."

Paul is director of health for the Metro Public Health Department of Nashville/Davidson County.

Back to other news for May 2011

Adapted from:
The Tennessean (Nashville)
05.01.2011; William S. Paul, M.D., M.P.H.


  
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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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