Talking About HIV and AIDS
As upsetting and confusing as it
can be to bring up the subject of AIDS
with young teens, it's essential to do so. Most likely they have
grown up hearing about Aids but a lot of their information can
be wrong. You can set the record straight -- if you know the facts
yourself. HIV is transmitted from person to person through contact
with blood, semen, vaginal fluid, or breast milk.
HIV can be prevented by using latex condoms during
sex, not sharing "drug needles," and avoiding contact
with another person's bodily fluids. So stay informed. Sharing
this information with your teen can keep them safe and calm their
fears. Finally, talking with your child about AIDS lays the groundwork
for any future conversations about AIDS-preventative behavior.
Here are some tips on how to get started:
1) Initiate discussion: Use an opportunity to
introduce the subject of AIDS to your teen. For example, try tying
a discussion into something your teen sees or hears, such as a
commercial about AIDS. This way, you can figure out what they
already understand and work from there.
2) Present the facts: Offer honest, accurate
information that's appropriate to a child's age and development.
A teen can absorb more detailed information such as: "Your
body is made up of billions of cells. Some of these cells, called
T-cells, help your body stay healthy by fighting off disease.
But if you get a virus called HIV, that virus kills the T- cells.
Over time, the body can't fight disease any more and that person
has AIDS." Pre-teens and teens should also understand how
condoms could help protect people from getting AIDS and that the
disease can be transmitted between persons who share drug needles.
3) Set them straight: People's misconceptions
about AIDS can be pretty scary, so it's important to correct them
as soon as possible.
4) Foster self-esteem: Praising our teens frequently,
setting realistic goals and keeping up with their interests are
an effective way to build self-esteem. And that's important, because
when teens feel good about themselves, they are much more likely
to withstand peer pressure to have sex before they are ready,
or to not do drugs. In short, they are less likely to engage in
behavior that could put them at risk for AIDS.
5) Put Your Teens Safety First: Some adults
mistakenly believe that AIDS is only a disease of homosexuals.
Whatever your beliefs, try not to let your opinions or feelings
prevent you from giving your child the facts about AIDS and its
transmission -- it's information that's essential to their health
6) Be prepared to discuss death: When talking
with your teens about AIDS, questions about death may come up.
Disciplining Your Teen
Rules & Limits
Sex & Relationships
Sex & Knowledge
Talking About Birth
Talking About Self-Image
Talking About Puberty
Drugs & Pre-teens