People living HIV and AIDS Positive are in a constant struggle for normalcy. This added stress during the teenage years is not addressed enough. HIV and AIDS do not discriminate between wealth, gender, race or social status. Educating teenagers on the truth about AIDS is important because there are individuals who already struggle with it daily. Preparing the teenagers of today to accept the AIDS riddled world of tomorrow is crucial to their maturity.
Peers Have It
The hallways of a high school are always going to be a place of insecurity. Walking them with an incurable disease makes its so much worse. Encouraging openness about HIV and AIDS will not only facilitate honesty but also the opportunity for growth. Regardless if a teen has AIDS due to drugs, sexual behavior or genetics, this disease has become a part of their identity. It is important to realize that living with HIV or AIDS does not have to be a walk of shame or isolation.
Peer to peer communication about HIV and AIDS should be about forming community, not isolating individuals. An individual with HIV or AIDS does not need to reveal their condition. They should share this private matter on their own accord. Once shared, this information cannot be separated from their identity.
They Are People
Many teens living with HIV or AIDS are normal. They have hopes, dreams and aspirations for life. They will love sports or hanging out with friends and struggle with adolescence right along with others. Showing teenagers that HIV and AIDS do not define a person is crucial for these teens’ community. Teachers and adults need to treat these students with respect in order to educate all students that they are also people. AIDS does not automatically alienate a teenager from society, the stigma’s attached do. Teenagers, and all people, need to overcome those stigmas and see the people within. They are people, they can live relatively normal lives, and they just have AIDS.
With acceptance moving forward, there are still boundaries. A teenager with AIDS or HIV needs to know how contagious they are. The state of their health should be closely monitored. It is important that they take more precautions before sharing food, drinks or clothing. Educating teenagers on the dangers of HIV and AIDS in harmony with humanization of victims is tricky. However, teenagers are smarter and more adaptable than most give them credit. Given the right information and the right example, teenagers could handle HIV and AIDS with maturity.
HIV and AIDS are serious issues. Brushing them under the rug, especially with teenagers, is a big mistake. Educate teenagers on where they come from: sex, drugs and parents. Once they understand a situation, they are less likely to make fun of it. A teenager with HIV or AIDS has enough to worry about. Adults should be working to make sure school and socializing are worry free.
Dave Harris says
The fear most parents have is that their teen will engage in sexual activities without protection. This opens the teen up to the HIV virus. The education efforts provided by our school systems may be doing more harm than good. Sex is presented as something that you need to be careful about rather than something to saved until marriage. This is at the root of the problem. Abstinence should be taught at least mentioned as an alternative. Some schools don’t believe that our youth are able to use any self restraint. I believe they are stronger than given credit for. Parents may need to consider placing their youth in a boarding school or boot camp for troubled, sexually active teens.
Thanks, Dave! Great points.