Yesterday was National Youth HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. The purpose of this annual day (April 10) is to support youth HIV prevention by promoting school-based health education.
However, I’m not “a day late and a dollar short,” because I believe I’m on the money about the importance of parents educating their child about safe sex, including making sure they get tested for HIV and AIDS. Many sex education programs in schools are wholly inadequate and don’t address LGBT students.
The statistics are alarming and underline the need for good education:
· 41% of HIV diagnoses occur in adolescents and young adults.
· More youth at risk for HIV, other STDs and pregnancy.
· 1 in 5 new HIV diagnoses were among young people 13-24.
· Only 9% of U.S. high school students have ever been tested for HIV.
· Condom use among sexually active students decreased from 62% in 2007 to 54% in 2017.
According to Dr. Laura Cheever, physician and associate administrator for the HIV/AIDS Bureau at the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration, nearly half of all young people living with HIV in the United States don’t know they are infected.
“Young people should get tested because people living with HIV need to be on medication so that they can live a near-normal lifespan. Once they are on these medications, they have effectively no risk of transmitting HIV to someone else,” says Dr. Cheever.
To better support parents in their efforts, here are some links:
· Use the HIV Testing sites and Care Services locator:
· For the latest Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) data:
· For more in-depth information about HIV/AIDS prevention:
Parents are the best teachers and know their children better than anyone else. Don’t leave Health Education to the schools. Your sex education should go beyond “the birds and the bees” so your children are not misinformed.
When Your Child Is Gay: What You Need To Know
For more detailed advice, see book, co-authored with a mother of a gay son and a psychiatrist, Jonathan L. Tobkes, M.D.