Skip to main content

Young people don't understand HIV and AIDS

Could you explain how HIV impacts the body?


I ask this question at the start and end of every HIV lesson I teach. Its a way of trying to monitor if my lesson is making a difference. Asking if they could explain a topic to someone else is a reasonable test to see if people understand the topic themselves. 


Today I asked this question at the start of a lesson and none of the 32 young people (13-14) could say yes. Now I am used to most young people not knowing that much about HIV but usually 1 or 2 say yes. It reminded me just how low the level of HIV awareness is in the general population. Now I know that HIV rates are low in the UK but they are on the rise. If we are not careful it is very possible that we could have a significant problem with HIV if we fail to educate people about the risks. The role of ARVs may help make people live significantly longer so that HIV can be seen as a chronic condition and not a death sentence, yet the cost is high and it is not a easy or desirable condition. 


So here are some of the common miss-conceptions about HIV I regularly encounter. 


  • HIV can be cured (yes this is the most common myth I encounter) 
  • HIV can be caught by sharing a house with someone who is HIV+
  • It is impossible to catch HIV from oral sex
  • But you can catch HIV from a normal toilet
  • Condoms protect you a 100% of the time
  • You could tell if someone had the HIV virus, they would look ill

These commons myths keep cropping up and whilst some are less serious (toilets!) some could lead people into significant problems. We need more education about HIV. If they practise safer sex in relation to HIV they will also be protected from a lot of other more common STIs, so its an effective way of promoting general safer sex practice. So lets push the issue in schools.





(I'm going to use this video on loop for my next presentation about HIV+)

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Agree - Disagree Sex and Relationship Statements

Today I shared another resource listing the agree disagree statement I often use in Relationship lessons. I find agree disagree activities as a bit of a two edge sword. Sometimes they are great and sometimes they just seem flat. 


I think agree/disagree activities work well if young people in the group do not all think the same. The true value in agree/disagree activities is the discussion it can stir up. The discussion is the point where young people learn things and develop their attitudes. The statements need to be crafted to try and divide opinion and stir up this discussion. When the statements do not divide group opinion then rarely will I get a good follow up discussion. The problem is that the statements that work well for one group do not work for another group. 

The temptation is to try and pick truly controversial issues but I have had as much success with the historically controversial issues (abortion, porn etc) as the more standard issues (loyalty, respect, condoms, etc). T…

Playing with figures of sexual health

A single research project can be reported on in different ways depending on what you want to do. Take the following two articles both reporting on the same research by the Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine. The research shows how many girls in the study thought the HPV vaccine also reduced their risk of catching other STIs.


http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2083260/One-teenage-girls-thinks-HPV-vaccine-cuts-risk-contracting-STDs.html
http://www.healthnews.com/en/news/Some-Girls-Overestimate-HPV-Vaccine-Protection/3hFUdOev1E8wSjg313QPZq/ 

The daily mail report emphasis 1 in 4, I believe this is because they are trying to show how it is a big problem. Where as Health News states "show that a small percentage of girls" I believe this is because they are trying to show it is not a big problem. Both quoting the same study with the same figure of 23.6% of girls having the HPV vaccine believing it will reduce their risk of catching other STIs. 

Now this is a common o…

The need to talk about porn and release all the data

Today childline launched anew campaign (FAPZ)to help young people make sense of the powerful influence online porn can have on young people. I welcome any new or renewed effort to help tackle this issue. What ever adults personally think about adults consuming porn, it clearly is not meant for young people. Below is a tweet from Simon Blake (CEO of Brook) Agree @NSPCC we must talk about porn at home, school & community. Whatever you think about porn it is not place CYP should learn about sex
— Simon Blake (@Simonablake) March 31, 2015 It is very worrying to hear Childlinereporting high numbers of calls to their phone line where online porn is a key issue. And this will just be a tip of the iceberg of the influence porn is having. When I talk about Childline in high schools I have meet many young people who think its not for them because they aren't a child so they wont ring it. Such a shame. 

However, the NSPCC could strengthen their campaign by releasing the full details of the…