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Why Talk about AIDS and Sex

Children and teenagers need to know about AIDS:

  1. To reduce their fears about the disease.
  2. To satisfy their natural curiosity.
  3. To reassure children who may know friends or family who have been affected by AIDS or HIV infection.
  4. To help delay the beginning of sexual activity.
  5. To encourage the use of condoms and safer sex practices if children are already sexually active.
  6. To understand and eliminate the risks associated with drugs that require needles for injection
  7. To teach them to have a healthy attitude about sexuality and love.

What should they know?

Pre-Schoolers (3-4 years)
Children at this age are learning about their bodies and the world through play. They can learn simple healthy routines such as bathing, brushing their teeth, and eating good food. A parent can let the child know that sex is one of the things that can be talked about in their home.

Young Children (5-8 years)
Young children are interested in birth, marriage and death. They have probably heard about AIDS on TV, and they may have questions or fears. They need to know that they shouldn't worry about getting AIDS and that people do not get HIV from being bad. They can understand basic ideas from simple examples such as getting germs into a cut.

Pre-Teens (9-12 years)
The pre-teen years are when the changes of puberty begin. Pre-teens are concerned about their bodies, their looks and what is normal. Some may start dating, have early sexual experiences or try drugs. Parents need to talk to them about sexuality, AIDS and drugs. Their natural curiosity about sexuality needs to be addressed through accurate information, using the correct words for the different parts of the body. They need to know what is meant by sexual intercourse, how HIV is spread, how to avoid risky behaviors and why taking drugs is dangerous.

Teens (13-19 years)
This can be a time of confusion or conflict. Teenagers need to know that the best way to prevent HIV is to avoid sexual intercourse and injection drug use. Parents should share their values about premarital sexual intercourse. We should recognize that, although we may want them to, many will not wait for marriage before engaging in sex. They need to know about condoms, birth control, and alternative forms of sexual behavior such as kissing, holding hands, masturbation, and sexual activity that does not include sexual intercourse. Teens need to know how drugs and alcohol affect their judgement. They also need to know about the high risk of sharing needles to inject drugs, including steroids, ear piercing and tattooing. Some young people may experiment sexually with others of the same sex, and therefore may be worried about AIDS. Young people need to know that AIDS is not a disease which affects only homosexuals, but it can affect anyone who engages in risky sexual behaviors or shares needles to inject drugs, including steroids.

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