With HIV infections rising an alarming 48% in some populations of young men, Joanna Schroeder hopes the new Kiss & Tell program will help educate all young people.
With a startling resurgence of HIV infections in young men, especially young gay black and Latino men, a new campaign is being launched both developed by, and targeting youth.
For those of us who were around in 1980s and aware of the plague that AIDS was, it’s impossible to imagine that there’s a whole group of young people for whom HIV and AIDS seems like something old people used to die of… But that’s just what a few teenagers I know told me recently. One boy said he knows that teens should be practicing safer sex, using condoms every single time, but AIDS just wasn’t on his radar.
But the numbers are clear and alarming:
Janet Weinberg, chief operating officer of Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC), highlighted the dangers facing these young men by sharing the most recent HIV statistics available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which shows an alarming 48 percent increase in infections among young black men 13 to 29 years old between 2006 and 2009.
This new campaign going up around New York City hopes to change that.
“Thirteen to 19 year olds get it,” Weinberg said. “They understand the need to kiss, they need to tell and what they’re doing isn’t wrong. How they do it needs to be safe.”
Weinberg says that the biggest roadblock to the practice of safer sex is the continuous shame tied to gay relationships.
As parents, we need to educate our children about the very real possibility of HIV’s resurgence within all communities, and that protection, education, and communication are the best ways to prevent the spread of a disease that is still very often fatal. We should also convey to our children that even though these numbers reflect an increase in one segment of the population, nobody is safe without protection.