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Communicating With Youth
On The Subject Of AIDS

A MAAS HIV/AIDS Educational Primer

America's Youth are no match for HIV/AIDSAn important part of being ready to talk to young people about preventing HIV infection and AIDS is being able to answer questions they may ask. If someone asks you a question about HIV infection or AIDS and you do not know the answer, it's okay to say you don't know. Don't make up an answer - faking it often does more harm than good. Treat a tough question as a chance to show a questioner how to get information about HIV infection and AIDS independently.

You, or anyone else can get accurate answers to difficult questions by calling your local AIDS hotline or the CDC National AIDS Hotline (1-800-342-AIDS). You do not have to give your name and the call is free.

To help you answer questions that might come up, here are some commonly asked questions with scientifically correct answers:

If Somebody In My Class At School Has AIDS, Am I Likely To Get It Too?
No. HIV is transmitted by unprotected sexual intercourse, needle sharing, or infected blood. It can also be given by an infected mother to her baby during pregnancy, birth, or breast-feeding.
People infected with HIV cannot pass the virus to others through ordinary activities of young people in school.
You will not become infected by HIV just by someone who is infected or has AIDS.

Can I Become Infected With HIV From "French" Kissing?
Not likely. HIV occasionally can be found in saliva, but in very low concentrations - so low that scientists believe it is virtually impossible to transmit infection by deep kissing.
The possibility exists that cuts or sores in the mouth may provide direct access for HIV to enter the bloodstream during prolonged deep kissing.
There has never been a single case documented in which HIV was transmitted by kissing.
Scientists, however, cannot absolutely rule out the possibility of transmission during prolonged, deep kissing because of possible blood contact.

Can I Become Infected With HIV From Oral Sex?
It is possible.
Oral sex often involves semen, vaginal secretions, or blood - fluids that contain HIV.
HIV is transmitted by the introduction of infected semen, vaginal secretions, or blood into another person's body.
During oral intercourse, the virus could enter the body through tiny cuts or sores in the mouth.

As Long As I Use A Latex Condom During Sexual Intercourse,
I Won't Get HIV Infection, Right?

Latex condoms have been shown to prevent HIV infection and other sexually transmitted diseases.
You have to use them properly. And you have to use them every time you have sex - vaginal, anal, and oral - with a male.
The only sure way to avoid infection through sex is to abstain from sexual intercourse, or engage in sexual intercourse with only someone who is not infected.
For more information about condoms, see the question on how to use a condom.

My Friend Has Anal Intercourse With Her boyfriend So That She Won't Get Pregnant.
She Won't Get AIDS From Doing That, Right?

Wrong. Anal intercourse with an infected partner is one of the ways HIV as been transmitted.
Whether you are male or female, anal intercourse with an infected person is very risky.

If I Have Never Injected Drugs and Have Had Sexual Intercourse Only With a Person Of the Opposite Sex, Could I Have Become Infected With HIV?
Yes. HIV does not discriminate. You do not have to be homosexual or use drugs to become infected.
Both males and females can become infected and transmit the infection to another person through intercourse.
If a previous sex partner was infected, you may be infected as well.

Is It Possible To Become Infected With HIV By Donating Blood?
No. There is absolutely no risk of HIV infection from donating blood.
Blood donation centers use a new, sterile needle for each donation.

I Had A Blood Transfusion. Is It Likely That I Am Infected With HIV?
It is highly unlikely. All donated blood has been tested for HIV since 1985.
Donors are asked if they have practiced behaviors that place them at increased risk for HIV. If they have, they are not allowed to donate blood.
Today the American blood supply is extremely safe.
If you are still concerned about the remote possibility of HIV infection from a transfusion, you should see your doctor or seek counseling about getting an HIV antibody test. Call the DCD National AIDS Hotline (1-800-342-AIDS) or your local health department to find out about counseling and testing facilities in your area.

Can I Become Infected With HIV From a Toilet Seat or Other Objects I Routinely Use?
No. HIV does not live on toilet seats or other everyday objects, even those on which body fluids may sometimes be found. Other examples of everyday objects are doorknobs, phones, money, and drinking fountains.

Can I Become Infected With HIV From a Mosquito or Other Insects?
You won't get HIV from a mosquito bite. The AIDS virus does not live in a mosquito, and it is not transmitted through a mosquito's salivary glands like other diseases such as malaria or yellow fever. You won't get it from bed bugs, lice, flies, or other insects, either.

A Friend of Mine Told Me That As Long As I Am Taking Birth Control Pills, I Will Never Get HIV Infection. Is This True?
No. Birth control pills do not protect against HIV.
You can become infected with HIV while you are taking birth control pills.
The only sure way not to become infected is to:
- Avoid needle sharing
- Abstain from unprotected sexual intercourse, or engage in sexual intercourse only with a partner who is not infected.
Latex condoms, when used consistently and correctly, are highly effective in preventing HIV infection and other STDs. Use them properly every time you have sex.
Even if you are taking the pill, you should use a latex condom unless you are sure that your partner is not infected.

I Think I Might Have Been Infected Two Months Ago When I Had Intercourse Without a Condom With Someone I Didn't Know. Should I Get An HIV Test?
You should seek counseling about the need for HIV testing.

What Do I Do If I Think I Am Infected With HIV?
Remember, you must have engaged in behaviors that place you at risk for HIV infection. Those behaviors include:
- Sharing needles with an infected person
- Having unprotected sexual intercourse with an infected person
I you are still concerned, you need to talk to someone about getting an HIV test that will determine if you are infected. That person might be a parent, doctor, or other health care provider, or someone who works at an AIDS counseling and testing center.
Call the CDC National AIDS Hotline (1-800-342-AIDS) to find out where you can go in your area to get counseling about an HIV test. You don't have to give your name, and the call is free. You can also call your State or local health department. The number is under "Health Department" in the Government section of your telephone book.
Your doctor may advise you to be counseled and tested if you have hemophilia or have received a blood transfusion between 1978 and 1985.

What Is the Proper Way To Use a Condom?
You can significantly decrease your chances of infection with HIV or any other sexually transmitted disease if you follow this list of simple instructions:
Use a latex condom every time you have sex - anal, oral, or vaginal. Latex serves as a barrier to the virus. "Lambskin" or "natural membrane" condoms may not be as good because of the pores in the material. Look for the word "latex" on the package.
As soon as the penis becomes erect, put the condom on it.
Leave a small space in the top of the condom to catch the semen, or use a condom with a reservoir tip. Remove any air that remains in the tip by gently pressing toward the base of the penis.
When you use a lubricant, check the label to make sure it is water-based. Do not use petroleum-based jelly, cold cream, baby oil, or other lubricants such as cooking oil or shortening. These weaken the latex condom and can cause it to break.
If you feel the condom break while you are having sex, stop immediately and pull out. Do not continue until you have put on a new condom. After climax (ejaculation), withdraw while the penis is still erect, holding on to the rim of the condom while pulling out so that it doesn't come off.
Never use a condom more than once.
Don't use a condom that is brittle or that has been stored near heat or in your wallet or glove compartment for a long time. Check the package for date of expiration.
A condom can't do you any good if you don't have one when you need it.

I Think My Son May Be Having Sexual Relations With Other Males. Is There Any Information
In Addition To The Materials In This Guide That I Need To Know About Before I Talk To Him About HIV and AIDS?

The information presented in this guide is pertinent to all youth, regardless of their sexual orientation.
HIV does not discriminate. It is not who you are, but what you do that determines whether you can become infected with the virus.
A latex condom should be used when having any type of intercourse.
For more information on specifically male-to-male HIV transmission, call the CDC National Hotline at 1-800-342-AIDS.

Talking With Young People About HIV Infection & AIDS
Young people today often face tough decisions about sex and drugs. Most likely, you will not be with the children you care about when they face these choices. But if you talk to them about decision making and HIV and AIDS prevention now, you can help them resist peer pressure and make informed choices that will help protect their health, now and for the rest of their lives.

Deciding What Young People Need To Know
As an adult who knows the young people you will talk with, you are in the best position to decide what they need to know about HIV infection and AIDS.
Think carefully about their knowledge and experience. How old are the children? How much do they already know about HIV infection, AIDS, and other related subjects, such as sex and drug use? Where have they gotten their information? From friends? School? Television? You? Is it likely to be accurate?
Also ask yourself these questions: Is it possible that the young people you will be talking with sexually active? Have they tried drugs? Do they spend time with people how do these things?
In addition, consider your family's religious and cultural values. Do you want to convey these in the conversation? How will you get them across? These are important questions. Answering them will help you stress the information that the young people in your life most need to know.

Think of Yourself As a Counselor
When talking with a young person about HIV infection and AIDS, think of your role as that of counselor, advisor, coach, best friend, or guide. Your goal: to help a young person learn how to make smart decisions about how to act in a healthful manner and avoid infection with HIV.

Tips For Starting a Conversation
You can start talking about HIV infection and AIDS at any time and in any way you choose. If you find it awkward to bring the topic up, you can look for cues that will help you. Here are some examples:
The Media. You can find plenty of cues in the media, which give HIV infection and AIDS a lot of attention. Look for stories about AIDS and advertisements about HIV prevention on television, on the radio, in newspapers, and in magazines. Start a conversation by commenting on one of them or asking a young person how he or she feels about it.
School. Ask a young person what he or she is learning in health, science, or any other class about HIV infection and AIDS. Use the answer to launch your conversation.
Community. Local events, such as AIDS benefits or health fairs, can serve as handy conversation starters. You might even propose going to such an event with a young person as an educational experience.
Children May Ask. Don't be surprised if a young person asks you directly about HIV infection and AIDS. You can also use young people's questions about related topics such as dating or sex, to lead into a conversation about HIV infection and AIDS.

How To Keep the Conversation Running Smoothly
It Can Be a Challenge. Talking about HIV infection and AIDS can be difficult. You may feel uncomfortable just thinking about it. That's understandable. If you are nervous or embarrassed, don't be afraid to say so. Bringing your feelings into the open can help break the tension. Besides, a young person will sense your uneasiness even if you don't mention it.
Review the Facts. You don't have to be an expert to talk with a young person about HIV infection and AIDS. But you should understand the basic facts so that you will deliver the right information. This guide will help you become familiar with the key facts. Talking about the facts with another adult may help you feel more comfortable as you prepare to talk with young people.
Step Into a Young Person's Shoes. What kinds of things did you do when you were the age of the young person with whom you plan to speak? How did you think? The better you understand a young person's point of view, the more effectively you'll be able to communicate. Also, thinking of some important differences between the world an child grows up in today and the one you grew up in can help you make your discussion timely and relevant.
Have a Mutual Conversation. A conversation is an exchange of ideas and information, not a lecture. Encourage the young person with whom you speak to talk and ask questions. Ask about his or her thoughts, feelings, and activities. Show that you want to learn from a young person just as you hope he or she will learn from you.
Listen. Listen to the young person with whom you speak as closely as you hope he or she will listen to you. Stop talking if he or she wants to speak. Give him or her your full attention, and make eye contact.
Be Upbeat. Try to show a positive attitude as you lead the discussion. A critical, disapproving tone can prompt a young person to ignore you.
Don't Get Discouraged. Young people often challenge what they hear from adults. If a young person questions what you say, try not to get into an argument. Encourage the young person to check your information with another source, such as the CDC National AIDS Hotline (1-800-342-AIDS). You can also show him or her some of the information in this guide. If your first conversation is cut short for any reason, don't give up. It is important to try again.

Smart Decision: Young People Can Make Them With Your Help
Even though young people may not ask for it, they often want guidance from adults. You can offer guidance to the young people you care about by helping them develop the skills to make smart decisions - decision about their education, their social life, their health. Just as important, you can help young people to understand that they have the ability - and the responsibility - to make the key decisions that can prevent the spread of HIV and AIDS.

Young People Do Make Decisions. Young people often feel they have no control over their lives. Adults tell them when to go tot school, when to be home, when to go to bed, and when to wake up. It's important to help them see that they make decisions about their lives every day, such as what music they listen to and whom they spend time with. Point out that they also make - tough choices with serious consequences about sex and drugs.
Cause and Effect. Many young people do not fully understand the direct relationship between their decisions and the consequences that may result. In your role as a counselor or guide, you can help them see that thoughtful decisions can bring them direct benefits and save them from harsh consequences, such as HIV infection and AIDS.
Recognize Peer Pressures. Young people's decisions are often strongly influenced by pressure to conform with friends and acquaintances. Peer pressure can also cause young people to act on impulses rather than to think through their decisions.
You can help the young people with whom you speak consider the effects of peer pressure. Point out that it is okay to act according to their best judgment, not according to what friends encourage them to do. Suggest that their friends may be testing limits and looking for support in making sound choices. Talk about the difficulties you may have had defying peer pressure. Then talk about the reasons you are glad you did.

Deciding What To Say To Younger Children
(Late Elementary & Middle School Aged)

Since most children in this age group are not sexually active or trying drugs, you may decide that the young people you speak with do not need to know the details of how HIV is transmitted through unprotected sexual intercourse and injecting drug use. However, if you think they may be considering or may be doing things that put them at risk of infection, you will need to be sure they know the risks regardless of their age.
Children this age probably have heard about AIDS and may be scared by it. Much of what they have heard may have been incorrect. To reassure them, make sure they know that they cannot become infected through everyday contact, such as going to school with someone who is infected with HIV.
Children also may have heard myths and prejudicial comments about HIV infection and AIDS. Correct any notions that people can be infected by touching a doorknob or being bit by a mosquito. Urge children to treat people who are infected with HIV or who have AIDS with compassion and understanding, not cruelty and anger. Correcting myths and prejudices early will help children protect themselves and others from HIV infection and AIDS in the future.
Consider including the following points in a conversation about HIV infection and AIDS with children in the late elementary and middle school aged levels:
· AIDS is a disease caused by a tiny germ called a virus.
· Many different types of people have AIDS today - male and female, rich and poor, White, Black, Hispanic, Asian and Native American.
· As of December 1993, nearly 68,000 people aged 20-29 have been diagnosed with AIDS. Because a person can be infected with HIV for as long as 10 or more years before the signs of AIDS appear, a significant number of these young people would have been infected when they were teenagers.
· There are many myths about AIDS. (Correct some of them if you can.)
· You can become infected with HIV either by having unprotected sexual intercourse with an infected person or by sharing drug needles or syringes with an infected person. Also, women infected with HIV can pass the virus to their babies during pregnancy or during birth.
· A person who is infected can infect others in the ways described above, even if no symptoms are present. You cannot tell by looking at someone whether he or she is infected with HIV. An infected person can appear completely healthy.
· People who have AIDS should be treated with compassion.

Information for Young People
(Late Elementary & Middle School Aged)

You may have heard about a disease called AIDS. A lot of people have been talking about it lately. Many people have gotten AIDS in the past few years. A lot of them have died.
AIDS is a condition that weakens the body's power to fight off sickness. It's a very serious medical problem. That's why people are talking about it. But sometimes people talk without knowing the facts.
AIDS is caused by a tiny germ. Doctors call a germ like this a virus. The virus that causes AIDS is called the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
The key thing for you to understand about AIDS is that it is not easy to get through the things you do every day. You cannot "catch" AIDS like you can a cold or the chickenpox. You cannot get AIDS from doing things like going to school, using a bathroom, or riding in a school bus.
It is important to know the facts about AIDS. You can be a leader by knowing the truth.
All of the following statements about AIDS are true. Read them. Remember them. When you hear something about AIDS that isn't true, speak up. Say that you know the facts. Tell people the truth.
You cannot get AIDS from the things you do every day, such as going to school, using a toilet, or drinking from a glass.
You cannot get AIDS from sitting next to someone in school who has AIDS.
You cannot get AIDS from a kiss on the cheek, or from touching or hugging someone who is infected.
You cannot get AIDS from a mosquito or any other kind of insect. The virus that causes AIDS dies inside of bugs, so there is no way they can give it to you.
You can become infected with HIV either by having unprotected sexual intercourse with an infected person or by sharing drug needles or syringes with an infected person. Also, women infected with HIV can pass the virus to their babies during pregnancy, during birth, or through breast-feeding.
A person who is infected can infect others during sexual intercourse, even if no symptoms are present. You cannot tell by looking at someone whether he or she is infected with HIV. An infected person can appear completely healthy.
You can play with someone who has HIV or AIDS just as you can with any of your other friends. This will not make you sick.
Many different types of people have AIDS - male and female, rich and poor, White, Black, Hispanic, Asian, and Native American.
As of December 1993, nearly 68,000 people aged 20-29 have been diagnosed with AIDS. Because a person can be infected with the virus that causes AIDS for as long as 10 or more years before the signs of AIDS appear, scientists believe that a significant number of these young people would have been infected when they were teenagers.
Being sick isn't fun. Treat people with AIDS the way you want to be treated when you are sick.

Texas AIDS Hotline
( 800 ) 299 - 2437