I'll never forget an interview I had a couple of years ago with a compelling young woman, then 22. She told me she was diagnosed with HIV when she was 19. She got it from her boyfriend, she said--the first person she ever had sex with. She told me that when she first got the news, she was simply in disbelief.
That's the thing about HIV/AIDS. For too many teens, it's not real until they or someone they know contracts it. The young woman with HIV who so bravely told me her story, was hardly the first teenager to have unprotected sex. She was hardly the first girl to trust that her boyfriend was negative just because "he's clean" or "didn't look sick."
Today is World AIDS Day. What can you do?
- Insist that your teenager understand how HIV/AIDS is transmitted (ie.
No, you can't get it from drinking someone's water!).
- Say to them
clearly, that a person with HIV/AIDS has no particular "look."
them know in no uncertain terms, that if they are sexually active, they
must use a condom every time.
- Lastly, express to them the need for compassion and understanding of those who are HIV positive--chances are that's more people than they realize.
For more related information on CafeMom, check out the group AIDS and HIV Awareness. Also, if you are so moved, tell us your story about how HIV/AIDS touched your life...