Some kids hear about it in middle school, some not at all. The topic is HIV and AIDS.
This reaction is common: “You can’t help but be scared. What if this happens to you?”
Ken Shulman, director of the Lambert House, a drop-in center for LGBTQ youth, says being scared is not a bad thing.
“I think fear can be perfectly healthy to keep us safe in many situations. I don’t think fear is something to necessarily be avoided, “ he said.
The talk here is frank and open, but conversations like these may be the exception and that concerns Seattle Children’s Dr. Yolanda Evans.
“Teens aren’t necessarily scared of HIV like they were when I was a teen because they’re not seeing the signs and symptoms of it,” she said.
Back then, the movie “Philadelphia” hit her hard. It was one of the first mainstream Hollywood films to acknowledge AIDS and homophobia.
Trouble is this is not what HIV and AIDS looks like anymore and the virus still infects 50,000 a year—a quarter of them teens and young adults.
“HIV is definitely something that is still real. We don’t have a cure for it. We don’t have a vaccine for it, so the biggest thing to protect people really is prevention and not getting infected in the first place,” said Evans
The first step is talk to your teens.
“I think the biggest thing is to communicate and let your teens know you’re open to having a conversation,” she said.