- How to talk to youth about sex and HIV
April 10th is recognized to be the National Youth HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. As of 2018, twenty-one percent of the 37,832 new HIV diagnoses in the country was comprised of youth, age 13 to 24 (CDC, 2018). Youth HIV/AIDS is a separate public health issue that needs to be categorized away from adult HIV/AIDS. There are many factors and challenges that contribute to youth getting diagnosed with HIV: the topic of sex not being normalized, inadequate sex education in elementary and middle schools, substance abuse, fear, stigma, disclosure and confidentiality issues, and widespread misconceptions of HIV/AIDS. All these combined lead to low testing rates for HIV and lower rates of viral suppression. The CDC notes in 2017, only 9% of high school students were tested for HIV at the time. Community and organizational efforts can combat these challenges and create change, therefore involving parents and schools is an important factor. Active engagement and awareness with youth is not a one-time project or activity, it is a continuous effort to meet the changing needs.
It is important to talk to youth and set a safe space for them to ask questions and get clarifications on sexual and reproductive health.
Things to note when talking to youth:
- Keep an open mind
- No question is a bad question
- Be honest
- Keep it real, give them the facts (you can find some on the CDC website)
- Don’t assume
- Don’t be afraid to go over the basics i.e. how to use a condom
- Have local resources
- Make a list of free health services i.e. testing, medication, contraception
The Center for Pan Asian Community Services pushes to diversify its outreach methods and work with youth, making sure to include them in our plans for sexual health programs and HIV outreach. CPACS is committed to providing primary and secondary prevention methods to our youth clients by increasing their access to prevention and treatment services.
For more information about HIV/AIDS resources, feel free to reach out to us at:
Delia Mendez (English and Spanish)
HIV Outreach Coordinator, Center for Pan Asian Community Services
Phone: 770-936-0969 ext.116
- Center for Disease Control (2018). HIV Youth. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/group/age/youth/index.html