AIDS and adolescents: protecting the next generation.

K. Henry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


While few adolescents world-wide have AIDS, it is estimated that half the people infected with HIV became infected when they were 15-24 years old. Health professionals assert that HIV exists in adolescent populations that are marked by sexually transmitted diseases and/or adolescent pregnancies. Research has revealed that most young people worldwide first experience sexual intercourse while they are in their teens. This situation has been exacerbated by rural-urban migration and the breakdown of traditional sources of information, by the risk-taking nature of adolescence that leads to drug and alcohol abuse, by cultural norms that lead young women to preserve their virginity by engaging in anal sex, by the poverty that causes youth to trade sex for survival. The HIV/AIDS prevention efforts aimed at young people have been successful in increasing their knowledge about transmission of the infection but not in changing their risky behavior. In order to change adolescent social norms, influential young people should be used as peer educators, parents and teachers should be enlisted in prevention efforts, young people should be involved in the planning of the programs, and all of the needs of the adolescents should be addressed. In addition, HIV/AIDS programs must provide services for those youth who are already infected. It is difficult for prevention programs to engage in safer sex training because of a lack of consensus about whether to give adolescents information only or to provide condoms. The AIDS epidemic has at least provided an opportunity for societies to address how sex education should proceed and has given rise to the innovative idea that adolescents require their own health services.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2-4
Number of pages3
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 1993

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