World AIDS Day Resource Roundup
It has been more than 30 years since the first cases of AIDS were reported in the U.S.—which means the young people you work with have never known a world without HIV. Here’s what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say about young people and HIV:
- Young people ages 13 to 29 accounted for 39 percent of all new HIV infections in 2009.
- HIV disproportionately affects young gay and bisexual men and young African Americans, compared to other young people.
- All young people should know how to protect themselves from HIV infection.
December 1 is World AIDS Day, a good opportunity to emphasize to your youth the importance of getting tested, reducing the stigma of living with HIV, and making healthy choices that reduce their likelihood of getting the virus. (Of course, every day is a good day to emphasize those things.)
Getting tested. To find HIV testing sites, youth can text their ZIP codes to KNOWIT (566948) or type a ZIP code into the AIDS.gov locator. If youth do test positive, the locator can also point them to services for people living with HIV, including housing assistance, health centers, HIV care for those without insurance, mental health and substance abuse programs, and family planning clinics. The locator is also available as an iPhone app.
Reducing the stigma. Facing AIDS is a federal initiative that encourages people to support the National HIV/AIDS Strategy by speaking out and helping to reduce the stigma that continues to surround HIV. According to the strategy, “The stigma associated with HIV remains extremely high and fear of discrimination causes some Americans to avoid learning their HIV status, disclosing their status, or accessing medical care.” Even if you don’t want to upload photos to the Facing AIDS website, you or your young people can organize an event to discuss why it’s important to face AIDS.
Preventing HIV. Obviously, preventing HIV isn’t a one-day deal. If you want to launch a program that addresses the problem year-round, you may want to consult the website of the Office of Adolescent Health’s National Resource Center for HIV/AIDS Prevention Among Adolescents, which lists programs shown to reduce HIV risk among teens.