Keep Your Kids from Getting HIV
With acknowledgement to – http://www.womenshealth.gov/hiv/prevention/
I downloaded this article from the internet and trust it will be of benefit to some readers. Comments and feedback will be welcome particularly if we can relate the content to South Africa.
If you are a mom or guardian of a teenager, you need to educate yourself and those you love on how to protect themselves from HIV. Here are some facts to know about teens and HIV.
• HIV/AIDS is a leading cause of death for Americans between the ages of 25 and 44.
• Most adults with AIDS were likely infected as adolescents or young adults.
• For young women aged 13 to 24, the most common way they get HIV is through unprotected sex with males.
• In a recent survey of high school students, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 61 percent of the students had sexual intercourse by the 12th grade. Forty two percent of students didn’t use a condom the last time they had sex. That’s almost half who didn’t use a condom and put themselves at risk for HIV.
• Delaying having sex for the first time can help reduce the chances of getting HIV.
• Teens want good, solid advice on sexual issues from parents, often mothers. That means you are their best resource! Talking With Kids About Tough Issues is a national initiative by Children Now and the Kaiser Family Foundation to help parents talk with their children earlier and more often about tough issues like HIV/AIDS, sex, and drug abuse. Talking with your kids about HIV can be a tough task, but here are some helpful tips from this campaign to help you along the way:
Bring up the topic with your child. You could start talking about HIV when your child sees or hears a TV ad about HIV. Ask, “Have you heard about AIDS before? What do you think AIDS is?” This way, you can figure out what your child already understands and work from there.
Give just the facts. Offer honest, correct information that’s right for the child’s age and development. To an 8-year-old you might say, “AIDS is a disease that makes people very sick. It’s caused by a virus, called HIV, which is a tiny germ.” An older child can absorb more detailed information. Pre-teens should also understand how HIV is spread and that condoms help protect people from getting AIDS. If you have not yet talked about sex, don’t bring it up during initial discussions about AIDS. It’s not a good idea for your child’s first information about sex to be associated with such a serious disease. When the time is right, talk to older children about what they can do to stay safe from HIV. Be specific. Use the ABCs and other steps as a guide to HIV prevention.
Correct misunderstandings. Children’s misconceptions about AIDS can be scary, so it’s important to correct them as soon as possible. Be sure to check back with your child and see what she or he remembers. Understanding AIDS, particularly for young children, takes more than a single conversation.
Build your child’s confidence. Praising your children frequently, setting realistic goals, and keeping up with their interests are effective ways to build self-esteem. When kids feel good about themselves, they are much more likely to withstand peer pressure to use drugs or to have sex before they are ready. So they are less likely to put themselves at risk for AIDS.
Be ready to talk about death. When talking with your kids about AIDS, questions about death may come up. Explain death in simple terms. You could say that when someone dies, they don’t breathe, eat, or feel hungry or cold, and you won’t see them again. Although very young children won’t be able to understand such finality, that’s okay. Just be patient and repeat the message whenever appropriate. Never explain death in terms of sleep. It may make your child worry that if he falls asleep, he’ll never wake up. Offer reassurance. If appropriate, tell your child that you are not going to die from AIDS and that he won’t either. Stress that while AIDS is serious, it can be prevented.