Youth & HIV
According to a recent report issued by the Office of National
AIDS Policy: The White House -- Youth and HIV/AIDS 2000: A
New American Agenda -- young people continue to remain at
significant risk for HIV infection. Consider this:
Young Americans between the ages of 13 and 24 are still
contracting HIV at the rate of 2 per hour.
Half of all new infections are thought to occur in people
Each year 3,000 adolescents contract sexually transmitted
diseases, which is about one in four sexually experienced teens.
Almost 50% of teachers who teach about HIV/AIDS reported
spending only one or two class periods on the topic.
Twenty-five percent of U.S. high school students said
that they were under the influence of alcohol or drugs when they
last engaged in sexual activity.
In a recent survey, 87% of young Americans said they do
not believe they are at risk for HIV infection.
Also, LIAAC has found that:
Using alcohol and drugs greatly increases the chance that
young people will place themselves at risk for HIV, even when
they plan to practice safer behavior.
Teens report that parents seem to be uncomfortable and
reluctant when discussing ways to prevent sexually transmitted
At LIAAC we know all too well that there are human faces
behind these statistics. That’s why our Prevention Education
staff focus so much of their skill and expertise on reaching out
to youth on Long Island, where there are more cases of AIDS than
half the states in America.
If you are a young person living on Long Island, there are
lots of ways to get involved to learn how to protect yourself
and your peers. Two recent examples include:
LIAAC has sponsored two-part joint learning experiences to
encourage communication between parents and teens. In the first
session, parents are trained by LIAAC staff and given tips on
how to discuss HIV prevention issues with their teens. In the
next session, a group of teens participate in an HIV/AIDS
discussion. The previously trained parents serve as a panel and
the teens in attendance are able to ask the panel HIV-related
questions. The LIAAC educator is present to offer technical
assistance to the panel.
With community leaders in Roosevelt, LIAAC participated in a
theatre workshop event this year, where adolescents wrote,
produced, directed and performed in an autobiographical play
about a woman living with AIDS. A LIAAC educator provided
important and accurate information to the teens about what it
means to live with HIV disease, and how AIDS impacts the
community as a whole.
Often, after participating in a LIAAC education program,
teens will want to know how they can make a difference for Long
Islanders living with AIDS. Junior high school and high school
students have several opportunities for community service at
LIAAC. For example:
Every fall, teens from Commack High School
organize a food drive for LIAAC clients, to supports our
Thanksgiving activities. Over 200 families receive a turkey
delivery, as well as grocery bags stuffed with necessities and
special treats for our clients experiencing financial hardship
and chronic illness.
In preparation for the winter holidays, Wantagh
High School students recently spent hours at LIAAC wrapping
donated toys. Each December, LIAAC hosts holiday parties for
families living with HIV/AIDS, and after a hot buffet, dancing
and games, "Santa" distributes these toys to over 150 children.
Long Island teens show that they are the hope for
the future through their enormous presence at LIAAC’s AIDS Walk,
held every October. Thousands of teens from Hempstead to
Setauket form teams and raise pledges to support LIAAC program