World AIDS Day: Raising Young People’s Awareness About HIV and AIDS

Red HIV awareness ribbon.

World AIDS Day, observed on Dec. 1, is a prime time to share resources on HIV and AIDS prevention with youth and staff.

Raising awareness among youth is especially important because they are at significant risk for contracting HIV. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), youth ages 13 to 24 represented more than 20 percent of HIV diagnoses in 2014. In addition, over 40 percent of young people ages 18 to 24 were living with undiagnosed HIV in 2012.

Here are some ways to engage staff and youth in preventing HIV and AIDS among young people:

Give staff the facts. The CDC fact sheet “HIV Among Youth” (PDF, 135 KB) was recently updated with data from studies conducted between 2005 and 2014, and is ideal for distributing to staff members. An easy-to-read graph shows the breakdown by race and ethnicity of estimated new HIV diagnoses among young people ages 13-24.

Choose a prevention strategy. Selecting an HIV prevention intervention for youth can be daunting, but the Adolescent HIV/AIDS Prevention National Resource Center makes the task easier for organizations with its “What Works in Youth HIV” website. The site provides a comprehensive overview of various approaches and discusses each intervention’s advantages and challenges. For example, sending messages via social media is a great way to reach youth, but organizations often neglect to create a clear social media strategy and to select the most effective platform for their messages.

Help staff prepare. Staff need to be adequately informed and given the right tools to discuss HIV with youth to ensure that prevention efforts are effective. “Positive Spin,” a project of AIDS.gov, is designed for a broad audience but can be very helpful for front-line staff who work with youth. The website features five two- to three-minute videos in which young men share when and how they contracted HIV. Don’t miss the user-friendly facilitator’s guide which provides discussion questions for every section of the site.

Tell youth about the “HIV: The Basics” webpage. The ACT for Youth Center of Excellence manages the youth-friendly “Act Youth Network” website, whose “HIV: The Basics” page breaks down information on HIV in a way that is easy to follow. Even though the site is designed for youth who live in New York state, most of the page’s links connect youth to nationwide resources. There is also a link to the site’s “Get Tested, Get Treated: Take Control” page, which encourages young people to get tested for all types of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.

Show these videos created for youth. Designed to be short and powerful, “Jamar’s Story, Let’s Stop HIV Together” (2.5 minutes long, from the CDC) and “RU+” (5.5 minutes long, from the New York State Department of Health) engage young people with storytelling and compelling facts. “Jamar’s Story” emphasizes reducing the stigma of being HIV-positive. In “RU+,” youth-friendly bullet points cover young people’s frequently asked questions about acquiring sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.

Seize another opportunity to raise awareness about HIV and AIDS on April 10, 2017 National Youth HIV and AIDS Awareness Day.  The campaign is led by Amplify, a project of Advocates for Youth.

More on HIV and Sexually Transmitted Infections

Can Homeless Teens Learn to Better Protect Themselves From HIV?

Communicating with Native American Youth about STI Prevention

What Places Sexual Minority Youth At Heightened Risk for Sexually Transmitted Infections?

Publications discussed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Clearinghouse on Families and Youth, the Family and Youth Services Bureau, or the Administration for Children and Families.

 

 

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