Sunday, July 12, 2009

TEEN TRENDS - TEENS & HIV - A GROWING EPIDEMIC

(This blog is written to inform parents and others of disturbing trends of teenagers)

When I first started blogging on dangerous teen trends, I decided I wasn't going to tackle the subject of teen sex. (Hey, I've already had to give "the talk" twice.) But after doing a little research, I was surprised to learn that STD's, including HIV/AIDS, are at an all time high among American teenagers today.

STD FACTS:

  • There are more than twenty STD's, some of which are incurable and deadly.
  • More than 3,000,000 teens become infected with an STD each year.
  • 65% of teens are sexually active by the 12th grade, with 20% having had four or more partners. The average age of a first sexual experience is sixteen.
  • STD's can cause infertility, painful blisters and sores, genital warts, mental retardation, brain damage, blindness, and cancer.

HIV - Human Immunodeficiency Virus - is the worst recorded pandemic in the world that was first recorded in 1981. HIV is the virus that comes first, and AIDS - Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome - is the disease that follows as a result of HIV killing the body's immune system. There is no cure for AIDS and no vaccine to prevent HIV.

5 WAYS TO CONTRACT AIDS:

  • Sexual intercourse with an infected person.
  • Anal intercourse with an infected person
  • Sharing needles or other paraphernalia for injecting drugs with an infected person.
  • Giving birth if you are infected with HIV (one in four HIV positive mothers will infect their babies.)
  • Infected blood or blood products given by blood transfusions or other medical treatments(very rare).
  • You cannot contract HIV/AIDS by kissing or by hugging or being around someone who has HIV/AIDS.

    HIV/AIDS FACTS:
    • AIDS is the sixth leading cause of death among people ages 15 to 24.
    • As of 2007, an estimated two million teens under the age of 15 were living with HIV.
    • Between 40,000 and 50,000 Americans become infected with HIV every year. Half are between the ages of 13 and 24.
    • Recent studies show that 26% of sexually active teens believe it's impossible to get HIV through oral sex.
    • It takes between one to six months from time of infection until HIV antibodies are detectable in the blood.
    • One in five people with HIV don't know they are infected.

    SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS:

    EARLY INFECTION - may have no symptoms, but it's common to develop flu-like symptoms two to four weeks after becoming infected:

    • Fever
    • Headache
    • Sore throat
    • Swollen lymph nodes
    • Rash

    EVEN IF YOU DON'T HAVE SYMPTOMS, YOU CAN STILL INFECT OTHERS WITH THE VIRUS.

    LATER INFECTION - may remain symptom-free for eight or nine years or more, but the virus continues to multiply and destroy immune cells:

    • Swollen lymph nodes
    • Diarrhea
    • Weight lossBold
    • Fever
    • Cough and shortness of breath

    LATEST PHASE OF INFECTION - occurs approximately ten or more years after the initial infection - more serious symptoms may begin to appear, and the infection may meet the official definition of AIDS:

    • Soaking night sweats
    • Shaking chills
    • Fever higher than 100 F for several weeks
    • Dry cough and shortness of breath
    • Chronic diarrhea
    • Persistent white spots or unusual lesions on tongue or in mouth
    • Headaches
    • Blurred or distorted vision
    • Weight loss
    • Persistent, unexplained fatigue
    • A person infected with HIV is more likely to develop certain cancers

    WITH A RISE OF HIV/STD's IN TEENS, WHAT'S A PARENT TO DO?

    Parents need to talk to their teens and talk to them often. (Hollie is 19 and I still talk to her, and she always says "Momma, I'm gonna be 30 years old and you're still gonna be telling me not to have sex".) But seriously, it's a hard talk to have, but it has to be done. No one wants their daughter to be 16 and pregnant, but worse, you don't want your teen to be 16 and HIV positive. And this is not a "beat around the bush" kind of talk. You have to be straightforward and give them all the facts.

    Teens need to know that once he/she is infected with HIV, he/she WILL get AIDS. THERE IS NO CURE. There are drugs to slow the process, but not cure it. Eventually, the breakdown of the immune system will occur, and the teen becomes susceptible to disease; even the flu can kill a teen with AIDS.

    Teens need to know that HIV does not discriminate; white gay guys, drug users and prostitutes are not the only ones who can contract AIDS; anyone - whether an elderly man or woman or a teenager who has only had sex one time, rich or poor, homeless or a CEO - can get this fatal disease.

    SHOULD SEX EDUCATION BE TAUGHT IN SCHOOLS?

    I know this is a very controversial topic. I believe sex education in schools is okay as long as students are given information about all the STD's they could contract, the signs and symptoms of each of these STD's, and the prognosis of a teen who has an STD. I also believe it's okay to teach "safe sex", but I do not believe schools have the right to hand out condoms or to show students how to use a condom.

    For me personally, I believe teens should be taught abstinence - "choosing to wait until marriage to have sex is the only choice that is guaranteed to protect teens from physical, emotional, mental, psychological, social, moral, ethical, and spiritual harm teenage sex can and often does have".

    But whether you choose to teach your teen safe sex or abstinence, it's important that you do have this talk with your teen and have it often...their life could depend on it.

    MY STORY - AN HIV SCARE:

    In 1990, there was still a lot doctors and scientists didn't know about HIV/AIDS, and testing of donated blood was still a fairly new process. In July 1990, I was in a car accident and received fourteen pints of blood in the first twelve hours following admission to the hospital (due to a ruptured aorta), plus platelets.

    When I went to see my doctor six months later, he told me that since I had had a blood transfusion, I needed to go to the Health Department to be tested for HIV as soon as possible, and that I should be tested every year for five years and then again at the ten year mark. I had also suffered a severe head injury and had been in a coma, so at six months post-accident, I still wasn't functioning at full capacity, so I was a little shocked and confused by what he was telling me. (I hadn't been told about all the treatment I had received, and I knew nothing about this blood transfusion, so yes, I panicked.)

    When I made that first trip to the Health Department and had to ask to have an HIV test, I felt dirty. I whispered to the nurse what I needed (so no one could hear), but I wanted to tell everybody there that I had a blood transfusion, and that I was not a drug addict or sex addict (not that anybody there really cared, but I did).

    After years of being tested, I am not HIV positive, but for ten years the thought that I could become HIV positive stayed in the back of my mind, a constant worry.
    A person can test negative one day, and the next time, test positive. The disease can lay dorment for up to ten years.


    Parents need to start talking to their child at an early age, because, although sad to say, kids start having sex earlier and earlier...some even at 10 or 11 years of age. The earlier a child starts having sex, their chances of having multiple partners rises, so the risk of contracting an STD or HIV/AIDS more than doubles.


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    7 comments:

    thatgirlblogs said...

    I've had many blood transfusions in my life. Had no idea HIV could stay dormant that long. Scary.

    Sula Lee said...

    I didn't know it could stay dormant that long either. Now that is really scary. Can a person catch HIV from someone who has dormant HIV?

    I do think talking to our kids even at a young age is important. Kids also need to see our actions, because they will copy those more than our words.

    Dee said...

    Yes I realized I needed to start a lot earlier than planned because of the conversations other kids had with my son.

    I had the talk from about age5or 6 and continued to talk in ways I deemed more appropriate as he got older.

    What a scary experience you had and for over such a long period!

    The Crazy Suburban Mom said...

    This is just so sad and scary..

    blogsall said...

    your topic is truly helpful. keep it up.

    std facts said...

    Very informative post! keep it up!

    llutze said...

    Happy SITS Saturday.....I used to be a high school teacher and guidance counselor.....kids need so much of this info.....thanks.

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