Teaching youth about HIV/AIDS Awareness

Teaching youthBy Beaunea McNeil, Unite Contributing Writer Since the early 1980s, the world has been plagued with a disease that seemingly came out of nowhere. The disease has killed millions but as time passes, it is obvious that it is more containable than it once was. The disease is no longer a death sentence, but with the rising number of African Americans contracting HIV, or Human Immunodeficiency Virus, it is reasonable to ask, “What is going on in the African American community today when it comes to talking about and applying the rules of safe sex?” and, “Why aren’t the numbers coming to a drastic halt?” In 2010, the most recent population count, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that African Americans accounted for nearly 44 percent of those who identified as living with HIV/AIDS in America, eight times the population of whites who identified the same. Of this 44 percent, an estimated 29 percent of the represented are African American women, a 21 percent decrease from 2008. Men, both homo and heterosexual, account for nearly 70. While educational practices are helping to decrease ignorance about the virus, the ceasing of spreading the disease may be a bit easier said than done. Urban outreach has skyrocketed, and the numbers have slowed down just a small amount but there seems to be a place where the disease seems to be prominent the African American gay community. Accounting for 72 percent of all of the men living with HIV, the gay community stands at the top of the list doubling the estimated amount of black women and quadrupling the count of black heterosexual males. Though the numbers in this community are increasing, the amount of education has increased in secondary school settings as well. “We do work with individual middle, high school and junior colleges,” said Bob Holtkamp, the Director of Outreach and Prevention with the Aids Project of the Ozarks. “We have a school youth education program that goes to the schools with their cooperation, or upon their invitation, that provides information about sexual health protection and prevention. Schools can develop their own programs or seek other outside entities to provide that information.” Recently, over one hundred people went against the Springfield Public School District’s plan for educating the youth. The Choosing the Best sex education program was said to teach in a way that was “fearbased” instead of fact based. Educating students from grade six to 12, the program focuses on healthy living and dating for young adults. The program also aims to help students make positive choices for the future. So how exactly do we teach the next generation about awareness and protection in our communities? Is it as simple as telling them about cause and effect? Or are other ways more effective? If you have an opinion about HIV/AIDS education and how to effectively teach our youth about other sexually transmitted diseases, please write us at unitenewsonline@yahoo.com and your ideas could be in the next issue of Unite. We would love to hear from you!