September #174 : All Grown Up With HIV - by Cristina González

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Table of Contents
 

Features

All Grown Up With HIV

Facing the Future of HIV Care

From the Editor

The Facts of Life

Feedback

Letters- September 2011

The POZ Q+A

Going the Distance

What You Need to Know

The First Lady (Finally) Mentions HIV/AIDS

15M by 2015

Health Care for People With HIV in Grave Danger

Dame Elizabeth Taylor’s Jewels to Be Sold at Christie’s

Having Sex With Albino People Does Not Prevent or Cure AIDS

India-EU Trade Deal Could Put Millions With HIV at Risk

We Hear You

Judicial Prejudice and HIV

What Matters to You

Finding True Love With HIV

Treatment News

Test-Tube Babies

More Access to Medicaid for People With HIV

Help for Prisoners

FDA Approves a New HIV Drug

They’re Putting Viagra in Condoms???

By the Numbers

GMHC Treatment Issues September 2011

Comfort Zone

Life, in Harmony

POZ Heroes

Kid Wonder

   
Most Popular Lessons

The HIV Life Cycle

Shingles

Herpes Simplex Virus

Syphilis & Neurosyphilis

Treatments for Opportunistic Infections (OIs)

What is AIDS & HIV?

Hepatitis & HIV


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September 2011

All Grown Up With HIV

by Cristina González

Thirty years into the epidemic, a new crop of kids faces adulthood—with HIV. From babies born with the virus to teens who acquired it behaviorally, members of this new generation struggle to navigate survival while making their way through the world. The stories of these four brave young people are examples for how to succeed in spite of HIV. They also serve as cautionary tales, reminding us of the price we pay for not teaching our children well. Let lessons be learned.

Paige Rawl

Click here to read a digital edition of this article.

The headline-making National Survey of Family Growth, released this year by the federal government, reported that teenage abstinence was on the rise—from 22 percent in 2002 to about 28 percent by 2008. But the media coverage buried the lead: Seven out of 10 people in their late teens and early 20s are having sex.

This might not be an issue if many of them weren’t having unsafe sex. But they are, in droves. Philadelphia, for example, has the highest rate of teen sexual activity in the country—and the lowest rate of condom use.

It should come as no surprise then that Philadelphia also has the nation’s fifth highest teen HIV rate. The story is repeated all over the country. In Tennessee the number of people ages 15 to 24 who were newly infected with HIV jumped 32 percent between 2005 and 2009. Overall, Americans between ages 13 and 20 comprise 34 percent of the country’s new HIV infections. Globally, people younger than 25 account for more than half of all new HIV cases.

As long as we deny that kids are having sex and refuse to teach comprehensive sex ed, offering instead abstinence-only or abstinence-until-marriage, kids will remain powerless to protect themselves while gripped by raging hormones. You don’t need a degree from the Harvard School of Public Health to foresee the consequences to individual and public health.

When we teach kids not to have sex in order to protect their virginity, the message often comes through as, “You can do anything except put a penis in a vagina.” As a result, many young people have oral and anal sex, often unprotected, in the name of abstinence. Others, lacking any sex or HIV education at all, see no reason to put on a condom (similarly, they don’t know the risks in sharing injection drug equipment). Add these practices to the incidence of sexual abuse of young people, and you have a recipe for an HIV epidemic.

Other kids are growing up with HIV—those who contracted HIV in utero, at birth or through breast feeding from their HIV-positive mothers. While mother-to-child transmission has been nearly eliminated in the United States, there are a fair number of survivors who were born with the virus.

All these young people face similar challenges: learning to discuss and disclose HIV while developing social skills; dealing with HIV stigma while striving for self-esteem and self-empowerment; committing to the responsibility of daily treatment at a time of carefree youth; being accountable for their health and the health of others while they are still developing a sense of responsibility; and facing mortality at an age when feeling invincible is the norm. On top of this, they face the additional challenges of anyone living with HIV: handling the diagnosis of a serious and lifelong disease; finding, getting to, paying for and tolerating care and treatment; negotiating personal and family relationships in the face of HIV; dealing with mental health issues; and fighting stigma, discrimination and fear.

What is amazing is how well many young people deal with HIV. The first-person accounts of the strong, brave, smart “kids” on the next pages show that with the right attitude, the right support system and connection to care and treatment, growing up with HIV doesn’t have to rob kids—and society as a whole—of the glories of youth.

Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

Search: Philadelphia, Brooklyn, New York, Indianapolis, National Survey of Family Growth, abstinence, sex education, Perinatally Infected, iChoose2live, LGBT, Red Cross


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