National Youth HIV/AIDS Awareness Day – April 10
As we celebrate National Youth HIV/AIDS Awareness Day on April 10, it’s important to discuss this generation’s experience with HIV. Today’s youth aged 12-24 is the first generation who have never known a world without HIV and AIDS. If you’re looking for resources and advice, or you’re an adult that wants to support youth living with HIV, continue reading the tips below.
Keeping the pressure on educators
Historically, education about STDs and STIs, like HIV, was included in sexual health education in schools. More than 50% of boys and girls ages 15-19 report having sex and comprehensive sexuality education helps teens make responsible decisions.
Right now, the U.S. is seeing a decrease in sexual health education in schools and a rise in HIV/AIDS infections among teens.
We need to pressure educators and schools to keep health education programs. Conversations around sexual health and STI/STD testing start here. If we fail to educate, we could see an increase in HIV cases and stigma.
If you want to learn about safe sex or are having sex and want to be tested for STDs/STIs like HIV, it can be hard to know who to turn to. It might feel awkward talking to your parents but ultimately, you’ll know if it is a conversation your parents or guardians will be open to.
If you don’t have an at-home support system, fill out this form and the Take Control HIV community will provide you with options and support.
Encouraging conversations among youth
Youths influence each other. Encouraging that peer-to-peer interaction and letting students speak openly about HIV can reduce the stigma around the disease. It’s also an opportunity to correct any misconceptions about the disease or transmission.
How do I tell my family I have HIV?
If you test positive for HIV, it’s up to you to control how that conversation goes. Do you want support from your family? Do you prefer to tell a few trusted friends? Your family can be a huge form of support, but you know them best. Ultimately, you want to share your status with friends and loved ones who will help you thrive with HIV. If certain people may not know how to support you, it’s okay not to disclose too.
It is your parent’s job to be concerned about you, but you’re the one living with the diagnosis. Here are things you can do to make that talk easier:
- Talk to the clinic where you got diagnosed and ask for their recommendations.
- Find a support group of people in the same boat as you and ask what they did.
- Ask yourself how your parents might respond, and script around that. Roleplay!
- Reach out to a crisis line for immediate support.
How do I embrace my status?
It’s important to tell your family as soon as possible so you can start treatment and access medication if you’re underage. Before that time comes, it’s important for you to feel comfortable with your diagnosis. Do you have feelings of shame? Of guilt? Understand that having HIV is like any chronic illness. You have to manage it. Some days might be tougher than others, but living a long and healthy life is possible.
Overcoming your stigma will help when you tell your parents. They might have certain stigmas attached to the illness because of what they learned growing up. You can tell them and explain what you’ve learned through your education and acceptance.
You deserve support and comfort from your family.
Connect to care
Join the Take Control HIV community, and we’ll connect you to care within 72 hours.